Like founder, like sons...


Hard to believe a whole year has passed since revelations of Marcial Maciel's daughter became public. Hard to believe that the Legion of Christ - the order founded by Maciel - still has not offered adequate public apology or restitution to Maciel's earlier victims of sexual abuse. Many of these victims were minors studying for the priesthood. They were boys entrusted by their families to Maciel and the movement he founded. Their families had believed their sons were being sent off to become holy priests under the care of a living saint. One would hope than an order of "holy" and "orthodox" Catholic priests would recognize the injustice of sexual abuse committed against children in the name of Christ, and the injustice of public calumny against these victims when they came forward with the truth.

Yet in retrospect - and I say this in all sadness - we should not be surprised by the failure of Legion superiors to apologize to Maciel's victims. We should not be surprised by the movement's failure to apologize for Maciel's abuse, not to mention the movement's coverup of Maciel's actions as well as the public persecution of Maciel's victims.


Because like any other religious movement, good or bad, the Legion of Christ appears to derive its spirit from its founder. When the spirit of the founder is good, when the founder seeks sincerely to follow Christ and is inspired by the Holy Spirit, then we recognize the spirit of the movement as a charism. But when the spirit of the founder is evil, then it curses the entire movement.

Which brings us to what I consider the most disturbing report concerning the founder since the scandal broke. It is the recent El Mundo report of Maciel's death. For those who understand Spanish, you can read the original report here. For those who need an English translation, former Legionary Landon Cody has kindly provided one here.

Several sources tell me that El Mundo is a reputable Spanish news source. If this is true then I am most disturbed by the following aspects of Maciel's death, as reported by the news source:

It seems that for the previous two years, the founder had lost the faith. He did not go to mass, did not pray... The Legionaries who took care of him came to know that he felt "repulsed by religion". [...]

But the few elect who were with him at the end of his life had a hard time seeing him as an old man. For them, the last hours of the founder were a real calvary. Marcial Maciel refused to confess his sins. He did not want to and did not believe in God's pardon. Maybe he had spent too many years accostomed to fooling the divine representative in the confessional. How to suddenly declare him a pederast, he has relations with both men and women, he had at least six children who he never took care of like a real father, the abused drugs, he coveted and obtained great quantities of money, he plagiarized the spiritual guidelines of his congregation, he lied and damaged hundreds of people without it bothering him in the least way, and God knows what more. This, God does know. So, why confess his sins? "I said no!" he blurted out to Alvaro Corcuera, who was trying to anoint the dying man with holy oils.

Of all the sins that man can commit during his time on earth, only one is unpardonable by God. It is known as the sin against the Holy Spirit, or the sin of final impenitance. It is the sin of so hardening one's heart against God that one chooses to die unrepentant of one's sins.

As explained by Catholic Answers apologist Jim Blackburn:

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is essentially the willful rejection of God's grace and forgiveness.

A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture explains, "Unlike other blasphemies or sins which might be partially excused by ignorance, passion or inadvertence, this was[/is] a sin of willful malice and blindness to the light. As long as such a mentality persists, pardon is impossible, not because of any limitation of God, but because those who are guilty of this sin refuse to respond to the promptings of grace" (p.912).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) states, "There are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone who deliberately refuses to accept his mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit. Such hardness of heart can lead to final impenitence and eternal loss" (CCC 1864).

God alone judges the eternal fate of Maciel. We cannot know what conversation took place between God and Maciel in the final moments of the founder's life. Perhaps, as he was breathing his final breath, the prayers of all his followers cracked the hardness of his heart, allowing him to make peace with a God he had betrayed throughout his life. One can fool the wisest of popes and presidents, but one cannot fool God. And God forces each of us to face the truth of our sins. Better to face Him in the confessional during this lifetime.

Nevertheless, we cannot ignore this report of Maciel's death - a report that describes all the visible signs of final impenitance. "A tree falls in the direction it is leaning," my Benedictine spiritual director use to say when explaining the importance of living a Christian life in preparation for facing God in death. If Maciel's heart remained consistent with the double-life he led, if his heart remained true to his reported actions facing death, then he died either unable or unwilling to repent. In which case, but without judging, his eternal fate seems bleak.

This is something every Legionary and Regnum Christi member must reflect upon, two years after the death of their founder. Not only because the movement continued to describe Maciel as a saint in Heaven, despite an alleged death that suggests anything but. Not only because several top Legionaries reportedly witnessed the visibly unholy death of the founder. But because this spirit of impenitance, so visible (allegedly) in founder's death, has cursed his movement that refuses to renounce him. Just as Maciel reportedly appeared to choose death rather than repent of his sins, so too have current Legion superiors vis-a-vis Maciel's movement. Bossuet's description of Jansenist nuns seems apt in this situation: "They are as pious as angels and as proud as devils." But even more fundamental as Christians, what we are witnessing is St. Paul's warning to Romans: "For the wages of sin are death."

I pray the founder's impenitance has cursed the Legion and Regnum Christi as institutions only. I pray that God softens the hearts of individual Legionaries and Regnum Christi members, so that they not follow the spirit of their founder into the grave. Let the curse die with Maciel's movement. May Our Lord Jesus Christ free Maciel's victims and followers from the curse of Maciel's impenitance. And let us pray that no further soul risks eternal damnation because of the scandalous example of Maciel and those within the Legion who covered up for him.


I just left a comment about this at Seems to me that we are judged on the totality of our lives and not any particular statements or rituals as we actually kick the bucket. Moreover, it seems certain that MM was suffering dementia during his last months. Believe me, I am no fan of MM (I'm blogging about my forthcoming book at One thing is to abhor the man and his actions - another is to opine on how merciful God may, or may not, have chosen to be with him. The only place we know for sure that we meet God is in the depth of our conscience. I still believe in a merciful, loving God. And His designs are inscrutable. MM never hesitated to tell me I would go to hell if I "betrayed" my "vocation." That did not make it easy to leave after 20 years! But he (MM) was in no position to know how God will finally judge me or anyone else - and, I suggest,we are in no position to diagnose how God has dealt with MM. Based on all the evidence we have, we must condemn the sins of MM. Whether he is now in a hot or temperate place is up to God's mercy - and, so far in my experience, the good Lord is not a lawyer and had his own peculiar take on the Law. Am I wrong?

Maybe by restating Pete's point a different way we can gain clarity without butchering it in the process.

I think I could sincerely list here a 101 reasons for the Lord's mercy on MM. He was abused himself, was mentally ill in some way, maybe suffering dementia, etc.. If you had to console his sister or brother or nephew on hearing this news what would you tell them? Never to loose hope and continue to pray for him. This is how a Christian must see the end of any life on this earth. We think in these terms for the sake his salvation.

Yet God's judgments as they are manifested in events are understood not as pertaining to the offenders final sentence, but as an admonition to those who could be influenced by them. They are meant to teach the living, not condemn the dead.

MM had a role in life which he freely assumed before God and was meant to influence others, was intended to be a model and upheld as sure guide to holiness. Here was to flow a 'charism'. If the events are as described, it is a clear sign from God to not head this way, do not follow this path. If we judge these events, it is not to find the truth about MM's salvation, but ours.

I've heard recently that some LCs in Spain are harassing Luis Lucia Lucia's descendants, including his daughter, now in her nineties. I guess some of MM's followers are true to the charism.

Monk says,
"Seems to me that we are judged on the totality of our lives and not any particular statements or rituals as we actually kick the bucket."

I pray that this statement is not true, particularly concerning Maciel. From what has come to light, Maciel chose evil from the time of his youth. If there is not the possibility for a deathbed conversion, then his actions throughout his life would most certainly condemn him. I always have hope that those who have chosen evil for the majority of their lives, will have that last moment of clarity to choose our most loving God.

Does St. Paul not also talk about the possibility of the opposite happening--that one might run the race throughout one's life to only lose it at the end?

Also, what does that say about the leadership of the Legion that, knowing the manner of Maciel's death, they proclaim publicly that he is in heaven, possibly making many think that there are no prayers necessary for his salvation?

Monk, I am way past caring about mm's actions. I do not speculate about his final destination, heaven or hell. I am more concerned about the lc leadership and the manner in which they dealt with the truth of mm's final years.

Who can say that mm's rejection of all things religious, or his refusal of final confession is attributable to dementia versus some sort of possession? The legion had an exorcist on hand; would they have done so if they could simply dismiss his refusal to confess as the irrational choice of a demented old man?

The legion did not have to reveal details of mm's health or decline. Maintaining the man's privacy or dignity is one thing. It is quite another to fabricate a scenario featuring mm's ease into the afterlife, floating towards his sure heavenly reward on the grace of a full Confession, with Fr A patiently drawing the sins out of him via gentle questions, answered by mm's hand-squeezed "yes" and "no" responses.

Ironically, the legion showed a lack of love for their founder in his final years. If they cared about him more than they cared for the legion itself, wouldn't it have been logical for holy priests to storm the heavens in prayer for their founder who had seemingly lost his faith? But the option of praying for mm's restored faith was not given to the rc and lc faithful. Instead we were told about his suffering like Christ, and his sturdiness of faith as he prayerfully lived out his final days.

For those of us who cared that mm's abuse victims never received an apology (I stood in a very tiny minority among my rc sisters in this regard, sorry to say, their heads were too full of the fruits to care about binding the wounds of mm's victims) we were told that perhaps Fr A could not authorize an apology because his knowledge of the abuses came about through mm's Confession, and thus were protected by the seal of Confession.

Soooo, which is it? He confessed, and it is protected by the seal, or he did not because he was demented, thus no seal of Confession, and thus, apology is possible?

(I am not expecting an apology, it was really a rhetorical question...)

Really, what interests me is the disappointing actions of the current leadership, and whether they will be dealt with effectively by the AV.

What's the point of Last Rites and death-bed confessions, if "we are judged on the totality of our lives and not any particular statements or rituals as we actually kick the bucket"??

Those who wish for eternal rest for Maciel had better hope he is not judged on the totality of a life of sodomy, embezzling, womanizing, and fraud---not to mention abuse of the sacrament of confession, which is a very serious offense in the eyes of our Church (so serious there is no statute of limitations on it).

Maciel never hesitated to tell you that you would be damned if you lost your vocation NOT because he thought he was truly in a position to know this (the fact is that he very well not have believed in God at all). He told you this to manipulate you, plain and simple. You were a tool to be used and abused, all in the name of Legion.

I am with Jane; I have absolutely no interest in the final destination of the perverted Maciel, other than to make myself pray for him on occasion (though I will readily admit it is distasteful for me to do so), because I feel it is my duty as a Christian.

The only interest I have in his (apparent) final impenitence is the meaning of this in relation to the supposed "charism" he passed on. I definitely have come to believe that whatever "gift of a spirit" he passed on, it was NOT of the Holy Spirit but of a very unholy one. His final impenitence and lack of any kind of attempt at restitution for the great evil and cruel abuse he inflicted on others throughout his life (including possibly killing his sainted uncle and no telling how many others in his efforts to keep perpetrating this fraud for over half a century) shows that whatever spirit flowed through him, it was an evil one.

Btw, the dementia excuse is a joke. If the Legion thinks they will be able to fly that one, they are sorely mistaken. At the very least, Alvaro should have kept his mouth shut instead of making it known that Maciel was sharp till the end and made a beautiful confession before he floated up to his heavenly reward.

I do not lend much credence to theories of "dementia" or "brain damage" in Maciel's case. I consider them "red herrings" and concur with Monk to some degree.

I am talking about the shadowy area between sin, mental health, and evil which is so very hard to understand. History is full of people who were veritable "monsters" [Hitler, Mao, Stalin, etc.], who destroyed many lives with what seems unspeakable cruelty and utter disregard; in Maciel's case we have a man who destroyed the virginity of scores, and the the emotional, religious and spiritual lives of thousands.
The great miracle of our Human Nature [created by God] and Grace is that our souls can remain intact and somehow incorruptible despite this corrupt influence. But the perspective looks very bleak if we consider how some may have lost their faith as a result of being abused and scandalized by Maciel and some of his collaborators.
There is great pain when se see our friends -and ourselves- suffer from this multiple abuse.
I grieve and pray for all the survivors.

I am not sure we will ever find out the truth about Maciel's final years and death. I totally agree with Jane's comments that ironically the LC leaders showed a lack of love for their founder. They treated Maciel as he taught them -use others and deceive so LC can stand. Honesty was thrown out the window to continue the myth to save the LC, yet a soul may have lost his eternity because we all kept playing the game (and most of us did not realize the game until after Feb 2009 although our Church tried to give us signs of the game in 2006)

The article by Diogenes last Feb ( gave me all I needed to know to factually declare in my soul and mind that Maciel deserved to be renounced as founder for the good of all the LC/RC souls and for the good of Holy Mother Church. This comment was based on only the one fact that he fathered a daughter which the LC admitted to be true (and the story spiraled over the last year)....

"Maciel deserves to be reviled by the Legionaries of Christ. By "deserves" I mean his revilement is a debt of justice owed all Catholics by the Legion. This is not on account of Maciel's sin of sexual weakness, nor even on account of the sin of denying his sexual weakness. The fact of the matter is that Maciel was publicly accused of specific sexual crimes, and that out of moral cowardice he enlisted honorable men and women to mortgage their own reputations in defense of his lie. The lie was the lie of Maciel's personal sanctity, which Maciel knew to be a myth, and which the fact of his paternity (putting aside the more squalid accusations) proves that he knew. To the villainy of sacrificing the reputations of others, Maciel added the grotesque and blasphemous claim that the Holy See's sanctions were an answer to his own prayer to share more deeply in the passion of Christ, as an innocent victim made to bear the burden of false judgment in reparation for the sins of mankind. The Legion cannot share Catholic reverence for the Passion and fail to repudiate Maciel's cynicism in portraying himself as the Suffering Servant."

All of us were honorable men and women that Maciel used to defend his lie (and actually some of the LC hierarchy used us also to defend the lie). All of us are sinners but our intentions to serve the Lord were pure. Since the LC has not chosen to renounce Maciel, I had to do it myself by leaving RC and choosing the truth and the Lord over an institution and Maciel's methodology. It was so very hard since I received many gifts and love the people but I personally did feel like I was under the curse and lie of Maciel and the LC was not willing to stop it.

I have seen TODAY the Ordination Card of one of the recently ordained priests in Rome last december. On the back side, it has the word 'fiat' supposedly handwritten by Maciel in his deathbed.

How is this possible? How superiors have allowed the usage of handwritten stuff from Maciel?

Cold Winter - Your post leaves me speechless with a sick, hollow feeling in my stomach. I feel as if MM has reached out of hell to touch this new priest and all of us as faithful Catholics!

I think this needs to be reported to the Apostolic Visitors. It feels like disobedience to the Holy Sea's removal of MM from his leadership of LC.

They make a mockery out of obedience. The same arrogance I've seen as they've set up bishop, disobey and brag about obedience all at the same time. Saw some of it today.

As far as I have been able to tell, there isn't a single virtue that Maciel and his legion/regnum haven't made a mockery of. This seems to be the hallmark of this order of priests: twisting virtues into vices and vices into virtue.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Pete Vere published on February 11, 2010 9:35 AM.

Mariologist Hauke on Medjugorje: "Don't let the devotees fall into the void" was the previous entry in this blog.

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