The accusations have been found credible

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Now the Fr. Maciel has been "invited" to relinquish all public ministry as a result of CDF's investigations into sixth-commandment violations, what will happen in the religious community he founded? Will the Legion of Christ continue to speak of him reverently as "our father"? Will it remain an order that appears to select its seminarians in part for their pretty-boy looks?

One has to have some sympathy for members of the LC and the Regnum Christi lay group; they're good Catholic folks, sound in faith, who do many good things. Yet the founder of those groups misled them about himself, and they have to come to terms with the fact that he apparently committed some heinous crimes. His personality, with its defects, shaped the culture of those groups, giving them some dysfunctional aspects, so those communities will need their own efforts at truth, reconciliation, and reform. Alas, the LC's spokesmen seem to be circling the wagons so far.

The canonical accusers deserve credit for telling their story against a popular figure praised by thousands, including Pope John Paul II. God bless them for their courage, and may He bring healing to whatever harm Maciel caused them.

(The VIS announcement follows, and John Allen's NCR report is on-line.)

Update: Ed Peters has a commentary.

Update 2: Here's a link to the Legion press release. Reader Michael Gorman spotted that the URL I cited earlier went to an old press release instead of today's. Thanks! While today's release does not deny the charges outright, it still maintains the idea of Maciel as a Suffering Servant, choosing "not to defend himself in any way". Perhaps it's too early to expect an expression of regret from Maciel for his actions, or from the LC for its erroneous defenses of him.


VATICAN CITY, MAY 19, 2006 (VIS) - With reference to recent news concerning the person of Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, the Holy See Press Office released the following communique:

"Beginning in 1998, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith received accusations, already partly made public, against Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ, for crimes that fall under the exclusive competence of the congregation. In 2002, Fr. Maciel published a declaration denying the accusations and expressing his displeasure at the offence done him by certain former Legionaries of Christ. In 2005, by reason of his advanced age, Fr. Maciel retired from the office of superior general of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ.

"All these elements have been subject to a mature examination by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and - in accordance with the Motu Proprio 'Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela,' promulgated on April 30 2001 by Servant of God John Paul II - the then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, authorized an investigation into the accusations. In the meantime, Pope John II died and Cardinal Ratzinger was elected as the new Pontiff.

"After having attentively studied the results of the investigation, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, under the guidance of the new prefect, Cardinal William Joseph Levada, decided - bearing in mind Fr. Maciel's advanced age and his delicate health - to forgo a canonical hearing and to invite the father to a reserved life of penitence and prayer, relinquishing any form of public ministry. The Holy Father approved these decisions.

"Independently of the person of the Founder, the worthy apostolate of the Legionaries of Christ and of the Association 'Regnum Christi' is gratefully recognized."


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The pope has censured Fr. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionnaires of Christ, who has been accused of long-ago sexual abuse. He has been instructed to retire to a life of "prayer and penance". The interesting thing is that he... Read More


This is a tremendous opportunity for purification, but the Movement must realise it cannot combine loyalty to the Pope with loyalty to Maciel. They are mutually exclusive at this point.

That LC press release is a year old.

For a response to the present situation, see

Perhaps I just am dense, but I don't find anywhere a statement that the accusations are credible. Where is that, please?

Since there has been no trial, a statement would not be proper. But even without a direct statement by CDF, you can reach that conclusion.

Dr. Peters' commentary points out that in cases where a person is gravely suspected of an offense, the competent authority can impose a penance. Note that grave suspicion can exist after an investigation, even without a trial.

Such an imposition of a penance fits what CDF has done, and it obviates the need for a trial, if for some reason a trial is not possible or not prudent.

A grave suspicion that Fr. Maciel committed an offense is what we in America call finding the accusation credible.

So "credibility" equals "guilt"? That's a fair reading of what you wrote, Richard.


What about the part of the Vatican statement that says, "Independently of the person of the Founder, the worthy apostolate of the Legionaries of Christ and of the Association 'Regnum Christi' is gratefully recognized."

Why would they say "independently" if they found no fault with the founder of the LC?

In Jesu et Maria,

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This page contains a single entry by Richard Chonak published on May 19, 2006 11:52 AM.

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