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Legion Scandal Officially Beyond Crazy Now

Erin Manning, your hair is about to catch on fire. The Associated Press reports from Rome:

Thomas Williams, the onetime public face of the disgraced Legion of Christ religious order who left the priesthood after admitting he fathered a child, is getting married this weekend to the child’s mother, The Associated Press has learned. The bride is the daughter of former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Mary Ann Glendon, one of Pope Francis’ top advisers.

Glendon, a Harvard University law professor, is one of the highest-ranking women at the Vatican as president of the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences. She is also one of five people on Francis’ commission to reform the scandal-marred Vatican bank. Her daughter, Elizabeth Lev, is a Rome-based art historian and columnist for the Legion-run Zenit news agency, which Williams published for over a decade while he was in the order.

I, for one, would love to know what Father Greeley would make of this turn of events. Well, look, I hope they find peace and reconciliation with God.

UPDATE: Some readers seem to think that I’m scandalized by a priest having fathered a child out of wedlock, and leaving the priesthood to marry the mother. No, not at all. I mean, it’s scandalous, technically speaking, but it’s hardly unprecedented. In fact, it seems to me that Williams did the right thing here, trying to repair a terrible situation of his own making. What is bizarre about this is that it involves a member of a family of conservative American Catholic elites. It would be unjust to hold Mary Ann Glendon responsible for the sins and failings of her adult children. But given her high-profile role defending Fr. Maciel and the Legion against its critics, it is fair to wonder what she knew about Maciel and the Legion’s hypocrisy, and when she knew it. It is also fair to wonder what kind of apology she owes to the truth-tellers within the Church whom she, a brilliant and influential orthodox Catholic intellectual, once denounced.

UPDATE.2: But please, folks, quit blaming Glendon for what her daughter and this cad priest did. Glendon’s daughter is a middle-aged woman. I posted this story not to tee up people going off on Glendon, which is unjust, but to show that even an ongoing story as sick as the unwinding of the Legion of Christ continues to produce shockers. The villain in this story is not Mary Ann Glendon, and not really Elizabeth Lev. The villain is the former priest who violated his vows, impregnated a woman who gave birth to their son, while he continued working in the priesthood, as a prominent spokesman for his religious order — with his superiors knowing all about it. The fact that they also knew that the truth coming out could damage Glendon, but let Williams continue in his priesthood anyway, is mystifying.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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