Legionaries of Christ founder said to father child

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Published: 
Feb. 3, 2009

Fr. Marcial Maciel and Pope John Paul II: (CNS photo)Fr. Marcial Maciel and Pope John Paul II: (CNS photo)A spokesperson for the Legionaries of Christ said Feb. 3 the order has recently reached the conclusion that its founder, a Mexican priest named Marcial Maciel Degollado who was close to the late Pope John Paul II, was guilty of conduct that is "surprising, difficult to understand, and inappropriate for a Catholic priest."

The spokesperson, Jim Fair, who works out of the Legionaries' U.S. headquarters in Connecticut, declined to offer any specifics in response to an NCR inquiry.

Speaking on background, however, a Legionary priest in Rome confirmed the order has learned that Maciel, who died in January 2008, apparently fathered a child out of wedlock.

Four former Legionaries or supporters of the Legion, meanwhile, told NCR that priests in the order were recently sharing this news with members and supporters in private briefings in the United States and Mexico.

Fair declined to say whether the Legion's discoveries amount to a confirmation of earlier accusations of sexual abuse leveled against Maciel by ex-members of the order, which first became public in 1997. Those accusations were eventually the subject of an investigation by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which ended in 2006 with instructions that Maciel discontinue all public ministries and lead a life of "prayer and penance."

Though the Vatican declined to initiate a formal canonical process against Maciel because of his advanced age, its action was widely seen as a concession that at least some of the charges against him at that time had merit.

Rumors that the Legionaries had reached new damning conclusions about Maciel have built in recent days in the wake of confidential meetings the new superior of the order, Fr. Álvaro Corcuera, has been holding with members to inform them of an internal probe of Maciel's conduct.

Legionary sources told NCR that Corcuera has stressed that Maciel's misconduct was not a "one-time slipup," but rather "a pattern that stretched over years."

These sources said Corcuera and other Legionary officials began their review after Maciel stepped down as the order's superior in January 2006, and after the Vatican's conclusions were issued four months later.

These new statements represent the first time that the Legionaries of Christ have conceded that Maciel was guilty of any misconduct. When the sex abuse charges first surfaced, the order issued strenuous denials; in the wake of the 2006 Vatican investigation it issued a statement suggesting that the finding was a "new cross that God has allowed [Maciel] to suffer."

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Links to earlier NCR stories: The Legionaries of Christ and its founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel.

An update: Legionaries living through 'a process of purification'
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Internet bloggers, some with close Legion contacts, were also active Feb. 3, reflecting the spreading news of the Maciel misconduct.

"The rank and file were told in various places - some on retreat, others in special meetings," wrote Genevieve Kineke, on www.Life-after-rc.com, referring to the Legionaire priests who were informing Legion members and supporters.

Kineke, a former member of the Legion's lay affiliate Regnum Christi, has written extensively about the order one her website. Regnum Christi, with a membership of roughly 50,000, is pivotal to the order's fundraising and in running the two dozen Legion prep schools in the U.S.

Tom Hoopes, editor of the National Catholic Register, a weekly published by the Legion at its Cheshire, CT, headquarters, issued a Feb. 3 apology as a comment on the blog of a Catholic author, www.AmyWelborn.wordpress.com.

"All, I want to say is, I'm sorry. I want to say it here, because I defended Fr. Maciel here, and I need to be on the record regarding that defense," Hoops wrote.

"I'm sorry to the victims, who were victims twice, the second time by calumny. I'm sorry, to the Church, which has been damaged. I'm sorry, to those I've misled....The Church did bring justice, and did penalize this man...I seek repentance and forgiveness."

In a sign of turmoil within the Legion's ranks, Hoops backed off his statement somewhat later that day, adding: "I'm not saying every accusation against the man is true."

In the tightly-run lay network of Regnum Christi groups, Legion priests have held out Maciel as a saint. Some have said the Vatican punishment was a mistake, even as the order has professed strict obedience to the pope.

Since 1997, when the charges were first reported in the media, the Legion derided them as a conspiracy.

In 1998, Marciel victims filed a formal Vatican complain. It was not until 2004 that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger ordered an investigation. When, as Pope Benedict, he approved the punishment, a Vatican source told NCR that "more than twenty but less than 100" victims had testified. However, in punishing Maciel, the Vatican made no mention of the victims while praising the Legion and Regnum Christi.

"We have the same position as the Vatican," Fair told NCR, regarding the sex abuse investigation. "There was no trial. Father Maciel was asked to retire and he did."

That hairsplitting tracks the Legion strategy under Corcuera. He has attempted to demonstrate fealty to Pope Benedict while subtly suggesting the Vatican erred in ousting Maciel from ministry.

The order's website has portrayed Maciel as a spiritual warrior, airbrushing his punishment, to fuel a fundraising engine that supports a $260 million Legion budget, including the prep schools and colleges in several countries.

For many years Maciel had cultivated conservative celebrities and financial figures. As examples, Carlos Slim of Mexico, reportedly one of the world's richest men, became a major backer of Legion schools, and recently made headlines for purchasing a large block of New York Times stock.

Placido Domingo, the internationally renowned tenor, has sung at Legion fundraisers. William Bennett, the CNN commentator, is a regular speaker at Legion conferences. The late Father Richard John Neuhaus, editor of First Things, was one of Maciel's staunchest defenders. George Wiegel, a biographer of Pope John Paul II, has been a longtime champion of the Legionaries. The outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican, Mary Ann Glendon, was a prominent defender of Maciel and taught at the Legion's university in Rome.

Maciel died at 87 and was buried in his hometown of Cotija, Mexico, a retreat and conference center for the Legion.

"All the major orders - Jesuits, Franciscans, Dominicans ?have founders who are saints," said a former high-ranking Vatican official, unaware of the new allegations. "That's a big hurdle for the Legionaries when you look at Pope Benedict's decision [in 2006.]

The Legion has an idea that his reputation can somehow be rehabilitated - wait long enough, cast doubt on the investigation, and years from now promote him to be a saint."

The order has maintained strong Vatican supporters. On Dec. 14, Cardinal Franc Rodé of the Congregation for Religious told a Regnum Christi gathering in Brasilia: "God has made the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi flourish as the work of his own hands...Know that you can always count on the Pope's esteem and support, as well as on mine."

In recent days, Legion supporters have clearly been shaken. According to a former Regnum Christi member with close ties to the group, when priests in Atlanta delivered the new revelations at a three-day silent retreat, "Women began sobbing."

Author and NCR contributor Jason Berry is director of a film documentary about Maciel, available at www.VowsofSilenceFilm.com .

NCR Senior Correspondent John Allen also contributed to this article.


There is some good

There is some good discussion on this topic here:

http://www.xlcrc.com/forum/

War Tactics Should Be

War Tactics Should Be Applied to Abusers and to Those Who Offered Protection
By Mike Ference

Every day brings new evidence that we no longer live in a civilized and principled society. The worst part, it usually concerns another case of sexual misconduct involving a Catholic priest, young children and a church hierarchy that helped to cover up the case.

The recently unveiled federal grand jury investigation into the Los Angeles Archdiocese and it’s leader, Cardinal Mahony clearly suggests that a regime change should have been made long ago.

To be sure, media pressure and public outrage and a billion dollars in pr fees, legal fees and settlements have inspired displays of contrition from Mahony But as more and more cases of abuse ?and cover-up ?come to light, one begins to wonder whether Mahony should be considered any more trustworthy than, say, Saddam Hussein.

So ?what should be done if the grand jury finds Mahony to be just another member of the hierarchy more concerned with protecting dysfunctional sex freaks than innocent children? Given the level of wreckage and anguish caused in the lives of so many people, it seems appropriate to look to the war on terror for a model strategy.

A first prong of attack might involve a Special Forces unit made up of highly skilled and trained military personnel capable of tracking down and obtaining confessions from any current or former priests accused of acts of sexual abuse against children. If rights are violated, if military personnel sometimes go a little too far, so be it. The Catholic Church had ample opportunity to fess up and repent. Those incapable of civilized behavior shouldn’t expect the rights and privileges of civilization.

A deck of cards can be created to help identify hard-to-find priests as well as the disgraceful church leaders who permitted, and in essence, condoned the sexual abuse of young children. Photos of the most deviant and reprehensible church officials accompanied by a list of their offenses will encourage us all to do our patriotic duty in helping the authorities track down suspected priest-terrorists or at least be able to identify the culprits as they come and go freely because their sins where covered up and the time to criminally prosecute has expired.

Another option would be to divide the nation into territories. A color-code warning system would be established, alerting parents about abusive priests being transferred into their respective regions. Depending on the designated color for a particular region, parents would know whether their children should serve at Mass, go on field trips, or even attend Catholic school that day.

To aid this unique war on terror, a pool of money should be collected, not involuntarily from taxpayers, but voluntarily from those decent human beings who believe crimes committed against our children are sins that God takes very seriously. Some of the funds raised could then be turned into outrageously tempting reward sums for information leading to the capture of our targeted criminals. Once the rogue clerics have been imprisoned and forced to talk, I recommend that their confessions be given to someone like Steven Spielberg or George Romero. Hollywood writers and producers could create a blockbuster movie like Roots or Schindler’s List to serve as a bitter reminder that these crimes should never again be permitted to occur. Tom Savini could be hired to recreate the horror on the faces of child actors chosen to play parts.

Proceeds from the movie could go to victims of abuse and their families. And no matter how old the crime, compensation would be available. There should be no statute of limitations when the rights of children have been violated by those who lived much of their adult lives perched on a pedestal heightened by the trust of innocent and vulnerable believers. In fact, I would extend compensation to the second and perhaps even third generation of sufferers. It would certainly include siblings denied the experience of growing up with a brother or sister untraumatized by such abuse. And since crimes of abuse tend to echo, it would extend to the victims of the victims as well.

If all else fails, is it any less rational to declare war on the Catholic Church as part of a war on child abuse than it was to declare war on Iraq (which had nothing to do with 9/11 or Al-Qaeda and apparently had no weapons of mass destruction) as part of a war on terror? How many innocent children have been verifiably lost to this menace ?and how many more will be lost if we don’t make a preemptive strike?

As horrific as sexual abuse by priests may be, the perpetrators might merit a more forgiving place if only their superiors had the courage to do the right thing. For a few, counseling and close supervision might have been enough to prevent future abuses. Others clearly required something more intensive ?a mental hospital or a prison.

But repeated abuse, as well as willfully hiding the crimes and the criminals ?as far as I can see, this brings us much closer to the realm of mortal sin. And the sinners include not just the church hierarchy, but also attorneys who ill-advised parents not to buck the system and take on the Catholic Church, or may even have provided inside information to thwart legitimate cases against the church, law enforcement officials who may have thought it best to warn church officials of pending investigations, and janitors, housekeepers, teachers, and employees of the Catholic Church who kept silent because of concerns about a paycheck, a 401K, a pension, or a fear of standing up to church authorities. God has a place for everyone ?and if you abuse children or protect the abusers of children, we can only hope that your place is called hell.

You know, the good news is

You know, the good news is that we're all sinners and that we all can receive mercy and forgiveness. The old news, however, is that this happens a lot in the priesthood. I hope that those that are involved in the most conservative of personal prelatures take this as a sign to focus on extending mercy and love to everyone, because we're each as miserable a sinner as the next. Also, it might be time to finally let priests marry, so that the love between spouses can bring forth the fruit of a stronger, more dedicated priest. Protestants have always done it, and with much success.

Another Creeps For Christ

Another Creeps For Christ group is exposed....add to them Society of St. Pius X,...and all the rest of the traditionalist wierdos.

We also know that Thomas

We also know that Thomas Merton, back in his college days, appears to have once fathered a child and that after his conversion his religious order for a long time covered it up. Likewise, many years later Merton's conduct was not always that of an exemplary religious. Yet despite all this, no one, I think, can gainsay the immense amount of good that Merton accomplished. If liberals can rejoice in that, then let's hope we can be liberal enough to admit the good that Marciel did despite his conservatism.

Thomas Merton had a child

Thomas Merton had a child while he was studying in England; he wrote about his wild youth in "The Seven Story Mountain" and as everyone knows he had not yet come to the spiritual conversion that he also extensively wrote about. He never wanted to deny this transgression. Also later on he did fall in love with his nurse but ended the affair and in deed also wrote about it. So the question is, do these two serious failings of Merton compare with this Legionnaire dude's hundreds of victims. That takes a wild stretch of the imagination to make such a comparison. By the way has anyone everwondered about Opus Dei's leader. Half of Spain cannot believe he was made a saint.

Truth should be exposed, no

Truth should be exposed, no matter the person or cost. One difference here is that Merton did this prior to his religious life. Marciel committed these acts while working within rules he himself laid down for his order. I do hope this speaks to the fact that no matter how much we try to make rules force us to "be holy", only a true change of heart and admission that all of us rely on God's working in our lives on a daily basis can bring us the "perfection" we seek.

Do they really think that

Do they really think that this feeble REVISIONIST historical version, now trying to paint their pedophile founder as a philandering HETEROSEXUAL will erase the damage he has done to those young boys?

Yes indeed, Cardinal RODE.

Yes indeed, Cardinal RODE. Maciel and his group are the PERFECT metaphor for the degeneracy and decrepitude which permeates your system from top to bottom!!! Yet, you Curial fools continue to deny ordained priesthood to HEALTHY married men and women, and those who surrport them!!! AND JESUS WEPT....

Re: Fr. Marcial Maciel.

Re: Fr. Marcial Maciel.

It doesn't matter who it is, anyone other than the Deity Him or Herself has to live by the same rule. As the songster said it, "The harder they come, the harder they fall." Or as M. Scott Peck said it, "Carl Jung rightly ascribed evil to a failure to meet the shadow." The more consciously we try to suppress that which is sometimes as close to the Divine as we can ever be graced to experience in this life-time, namely, our heterosexuality, the more unconsciously equal and opposite tendencies of a more or less shadowy nature going to live that side of our lives for us. And if we continue to forget what the alchemists always knew, that the gold is in the shit, the more the shit will continue to bedevil us -- and the poor unfortunates who put so much trust and faith in our all-time Highness -- and the more our names will not live forever more.

If it's any consolation, it happens everywhere and to everyone. There was a very famous Yogi guru, Amrit Desai, whose reputation was whiter than the driven snow during all the falls from grace of other gurus, until finally it emerged that, sure enough, a poor creature who had complained of sexual abuse at his hands in the ashram, and who was vilified at the time for daring to besmirch the master's good name, had indeed been thusly cruelly mishandled at his hands.

Sic apparently vivitur. Let's stop imagining that the Supreme Being really wants us to deny our most wondrous, basic urges and then maybe, just maybe, we wouldn't have to fall quite so hard when, inevitably and naturally, we do fall. And all the innocent victims of our disgusting hypocrisy wouldn't be forced to fall so far either.

If the infalliuble folks in the Vatican ever listen to a word you say, for God's sake and for the victims' sake, get off this stupid celibacy rubbish. It's got nothing to do with any notion of the Divine that normal people have -- where would be our history if all the men decided they had to be celibate?

Yours in great sadness,

Tony Woolfson.

Thank you NCR for this

Thank you NCR for this excellent and comprehensive, objective and fair article, which mentions the saints who founded the Jesuits, Franciscans and Benedictines.

Perhaps we do best to turn to these great saints, and follow in their converging paths ("all which rises must converge" in the phrase of Father de Chardin SJ), and, to paraphrase the founder of monasticism in the West, Our Holy Father Saint Benedict, may we all get there together.

What more saint do we need but Saint Benedict of Nursia, of Subiaco, of Monte Cassino, and his Holy Rule for cenobite monastics? What more do we need than Saint Francis of Assissi to teach us through his Rule to live in absolute peace, prayer and poverty within the material world of war and avarice and lust? What more do we require than Saint Ignatius of Loyola, and the powerful witness of his many might sons like the Reverend Father Daniel Berrigan SJ, the Reverend Father John Dear SJ (for whom we pray as he prophetically testifies pro-life to the state legislature very soon to outlaw in New Mexico the death penalty), the Reverend Father Fernando Cardenal SJ whose ministry brought literacy to nearly every one of his fellow citizens of Nicaragua, and for his community at the Jesuit UCA in Managua, and above all, we must remember the forgotten, courageous, prophetic martyred Jesuit community of the UCA in San Salvador led by Father Ellacuria and give thanks to God that Jesuit Father Jon Sobrino was out of town that horrible night of martyrdom, and to read now carefully the writings of each one.

We have plenty of saints, and holy founders, to whom we may turn (why have we forgotten Sainte Scholastica and Ste. Claire, etc.?). We do not need to rewrite history in desperate revisionism when we find those presented to us by the materially wealthy have a human body after all, which was not actually employed as we are sold and told.

Let us turn instead to Saint Francis, and to Saint Benedict, and learn humility, poverty, peace and compassion.

So anyway, how did Escriva get canonized? And why not the Blessed Monsenor Oscar A. Romero? Why not the Blessed Pope John XXIII?

While Maciel was given so great a leniency (in interest of the wealth his group commands?) why was so little charity shown by the same CDF to great and Catholic theologians like the Reverend Father Edward Schillebeecks, the Rev. Father Hans Kung (who got the current pontiff his first teaching job), the Rev. Father Charles Curran, the Rev. Father Jacques Dupuis, the Rev. Father Tissa Ballasuriya, Friar Boff, and so many others. Why now a false "charity" for those Pius X Holocaust deniers, and so little for our actual Catholics priests, including Father Roy Bourgeois?

We lost much in losing Pope John Paul the FIRST (called by many the Great).

Amen, amen, amen! Peace!

Amen, amen, amen!
Peace!

I have become more and more

I have become more and more disgusted with the "church's" teachings with each news release.
"The church" is so entrapped in its own stubborn beliefs that it is not addressing the social needs of the people of the world. "The church" is the people and not only the ones who are so loud and mean about their beliefs in what's wrong with married priests, the sexual person, abortions when necessary, birth control so abortions aren't necessary. Plus, all the waste of time about some "very strange" priests who expound on the no-gas chambers of the Holocaust and there were no planes involved in the 9/11 tragedy.

I'm seeking my God in another place but not one that's tied to the "vatican's" withered and dead beliefs being stuffed down our throats.
I believe, as children of God, we have been given a tremendous job to do and the intelligence to do it.

Thank you. It is as though

Thank you. It is as though you gave voice to my own thoughts and struggles. I truly wonder where following the voice of the shepherd is amidst the rules we lay down that only force people to go undercover with their true feelings rather than honestly face their human struggles.

One might wonder about the

One might wonder about the "extra cross" God allowed the women, and especially the mother of his child, to carry.

Apparently, the Vatican does not believe this to be worthy of comment or even notice.

I am becoming more disillusioned and disgusted almost every day.

Despite their

Despite their holier-than-thou pronouncements and PR spin, people like Maciel (and, say, Dale Fushek in Arizona) start these organizations involving youngsters to gain ongoing access to fresh meat. Fresh young, vulnerable, malleable meat to feed their monstrous egos.

Felicidades por la

Felicidades por la información.

Por fin los Legionarios rectifican la historia de su Fundador... ¡pobrecillos! Tantos años engañados por sus superiores culpables de ocultar la verdad.

La verdad os hará libres... pero la habéis escogido tarde.

Now the facts are out there

Now the facts are out there and there is no way around them. Denying them, downplaying them or minimizing them in any way is impossible.

It matters not now whether of not Maciel was a favorite of Pope John Paul II or defended to the hilt by the recently deceased Cardinal Dulles because those who were defamed by the Legionaries of Christ have been vindicated and thank God it has happened.

Pope John Paul II bears responsibility for not addressing the problems of Maciel as does Pope Benedict XVI. They both knew, had to know or should have know if one were even to consider that they did not know.

The buck stops somewhere and in this case it stops with both popes.

What’s next?

Pope Benedict XVI should realize that his 2006 decision to let Maciel retire to live a life of prayer and penance and let it go at that with the hope that Maciel would fade in memory after his death is no longer sufficient.

Maciel should be denounced for the totality of the harm and evil he has perpetrated and visited on others.

There should be no doubt that this group, the Legionaries of Christ, has operated for all of its existence as a religious cult and as such should be suppressed.

All LC assets should be seized and there should be an extensive investigation of those in administrative and leadership positions in the Legionaries.

In all liklihood some prists should be dismissed and lacized but the good men who are LC priests should be given the option to go elsewhere to religious orders or diocesan clergy.

These are interesting

These are interesting comments coming from (I assume) devout Catholics and even a few priests. My sister has been in Regnum Christi for many years, and what I have seen in her life is a constant love and devotion to Christ evidenced by work with the local food bank, inner city tutoring, teaching CCD and ministering at our local parish and countless other hours spent serving others and the church. There is not an ounce of compassion expressed in any of these responses for the innocent and sincere people who were clearly victims of this founder, and who gave themselves selflessly to this movement in an effort to know Christ and spread his gospel message. They are of course devastated, and many will struggle, but my sister in her customary mercy says simply, that she believes most human are both worse than we expect and better than we give them credit for being. I have no doubt that her love for Christ will continue to grow despite the hardship she now faces. And seeing the contrast between her mercy and the judgement I read here, I think I'll follow her in my search for God.

It is time, it is fair, it

It is time, it is fair, it is necessary to start questioning strict obligatory celibate for priests. It should be choice, and maybe that will direct your apostolic work, maybe each life style will require different direction, but Christ NEVER said married men should not be their followers. I understand some men have a strong vocation, will and PERSONALITY that let them be chast, but it is time to let married men be priests and make this Saint Church grow from the big institution we continuosly fail to save: THE FAMILY.

It is fair to remember that FAITH should be given to God, not people.

To all believers in

To all believers in humanity. Let us remember that God was the first to put full belief and trust in us. Unimaginable as it may be seen in our world today as to how we treat each other and this sacred space of our existance, God stays the course. THe Pope, bishops, priests, deacons, religious, and all members of Christs Body. are given the grace in Baptism to carry out the good that god created in us. This does not mean that we will not be tempted to sinful acts.It seems the closer we have been called the Jesus, the more we are tempted. The devil has no respect for titles or positions.
Jesus knew this when He came do abide with us. He took on our sinful nature and gave us the abillity, through His dying on the cross, to forgive ouselves and each other so we could move on withour lives in grace once again. let us live the truth that Jesus conquered sin and death once and for all. Let us sek to bring back the good a person did and forgive them, no matter their titles, appointment in life, or Holy Divine oOffice. Let us be not finger pointers, nit pickers and tongue waggers, but like Jesus bring them back to life. Only Jesus can take away the sin of a person, we cannot. We can rejoice like the father of the prodigal son that he or she was once gone, but now has come back.

God is not yet done

God is not yet done cleansing His church. These kind of scandals, involving hypocrisy to the highest level, are what makes the Catholic witness so difficult in this secular world. I hope that the full truth comes out, not just this business about a child or two out of wedlock. My prayer is that the LC/RC disband and fully come into the church. They have been a parallel church for too long.

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