Maciel sexually abused two of his sons, CNN reports

Some more bad news for the Legion of Christ, shortly after Juan Vaca (one of Maciel’s first victims to come forward publicly) reportedly dismisses recent LC/RC apologies as vague and mere media strategy (click here).
In a live Spanish-language radio interview earlier today, Jose Raul Gonzalez (one of Maciel’s alleged sons) accuses the Legion of Christ/ Regnum Christi founder of having sexually abused Raul and his brother. According to notes taken by Aaron during the interview, Raul also alleges that although Fr. Carlos Skertchly (the priest who met with Raul on behalf of current LC Director General Fr. Alvaro Corcuera) “talks about Christian charity,” Fr. Skertchly “rejects Raul’s requests for money as his inheritance and also in compensation for 8 YEARS OF SEXUAL ABUSE OF RAUL AND HIS BROTHER BY MACIEL.” You can read Aaron’s summary translation here and here.
Additionally, CNN Mexico has posted its report (in Spanish) here. Additionally, Youtube has uploaded part of the radio interview (Starts about 90 seconds into the first part):
Part 1

Part 2

Okay, one more post – Maciel and Mama Maurita

One last post that I have been meaning to write for some time, on a topic that my fellow blog hobbits are now tackling. It concerns Fr. Maciel, family life, and the importance of truth. Giselle at Life-After-RC has posted the testimony of a parent who accuses Fr. Maciel of hurting his family life through Maciel’s lies, which touches upon why parents ought not treat Regnum Christi membership like a vocation on par with marriage (click here).
Meanwhile, ExLC treats us to some poetry in responding to my earlier post explaining how Fr. Maciel’s life undermines the teachings he advocates in his spiritual writings. Here’s ExLC’s poem:

Now here is the problem:
Who was Marcial Maciel?
Did he lie to his families about being a priest?
Or did he lie all along about being a founder?
And how can we ever know which one is the lie?
Or were they both a lie?

And of several thought-provoking weekend posts at RC Is Not My Life, one of them deals with this issue by comparing Fr. Maciel to television network executives in Jim Carey’s movie The Truman Show. What struck me was not only the author’s insight, which you can read here, but reader Simon’s comment in the ensuing discussion:

Based on what we now know about Maciel, there are really only two possibilities, aren’t there?
1. He concocted the Legion and RC to cover up for and fund his decadent lifestyle. The whole thing is a cynical joke, a scam. Marcial Madoff, L.C.
2. Anguished by the internal contradictions of his own life, this man — so utterly lacking integrity, self-discipline, generosity, genuine piety or even a fixed identity — overcompensated. He created an organization that pressed its members to sacrifice their own personalities and stripped away their ability to discern vocations, express authentic human emotions, or even decide how to part their hair.
In the first possibility, Maciel made cynical use of authentic Catholic spirituality in order to achieve his evil ends, adding nothing distinctive.
In the second possibility, Maciel actively distorted Catholicism in response to his own bizarre interior torment, so that the result is doctrinally orthodox as a formal matter, but deeply screwed up at the level of formation and spirituality.

I’m not a psychologist. Nor do I play one on television. However, I’ve ministered inside the Church’s legal structure for close to ten years now. I’ve seen a lot in that time, and heard a lot from canon lawyers who are older, smarter and more experienced than me. Often the answer to this type of mystery can be found in the childhood relationship between a troubled priest and his mother – especially if the father was absent, abusive or had a poor relationship with his son.
This reminds of an incident when I was first getting started as a canon lawyer. Along with several other canon lawyers I happened to be at a workshop explaining the process whereby priests and religious seek to return to the lay state. The vast majority of those in attendance were over 40 years of age. The handful of under 35-year-olds sat together in the back.
The presenter, a respected priest and canonist, said during his presentation: “The trigger for older priests and religious wanting to return to the lay state is seldom a love interest. The most common trigger is the death of a parent, usually the mother. Let’s be honest: how many of us are here today because our mother wanted us to become a priest or religious? How many of us would have chosen this life had we not been sent off as teenagers to the minor seminaries by our mothers?”
A look of shock and horror came over our faces in the back row, among those of us who were under 35 and had not been alive prior to the Second Vatican Council. Surely the presenter was exaggerating the “bad old days” before Vatican II! But as we watched row-after-row of older clergy and religious nod their heads in agreement, regardless of whether they were liberal or conservative theologically, us younger canon lawyers recognized that the presenter was speaking the truth. For many, it was the mother who wanted the vocation.
Now I don’t want to get carried away on this point. It’s not a bad thing if a mother, suspecting that God may be calling her son to priesthood or religious life, fosters and encourages the potential vocation. In fact, this is a good thing – if the vocation or call to discernment are a true calling from God. Thus St. Monica’s prayed for St. Augustine’s conversion, and St. John Bosco had a close relationship with his mother, who adopted the orphans served by her son’s apostolate as her own. Similarly, St. Pius X’s mother urged him to stay in the seminary when, as oldest son, he considered dropping out to support his mother and his siblings after the death of his father.
A similar story is told of Fr. John Hardon, the noted Jesuit catechist and spiritual director to Mother Teresa, and an only child who was raised by his mother after his father died in a work-related accident when the boy was only one. Reportedly, Father had thought about dropping out of the Jesuit seminary to support his mother when she began to show the effects of old age. His mother urged him to continue with the Jesuits, if this is where he felt God was calling him.
In each of these cases, the vocation is clearly present. The individuals themselves felt the call to priesthood and religious life, and those charged with their formation confirmed it. Their mothers simply encouraged them, through word and prayer, to remain faithful to God’s call. They did not seek to impose a calling that was not already clear to their the son.
This is different from being pressured into the priesthood or religious life – especially when a child’s relationship with the other parent is poor or lacking.
Mama Maurita has passed away. So has Fr. Maciel. Therefore, this avenue of inquiry can only be speculation. However, three things cause me to suspect that Fr. Maciel’s founding of his movement is tied to his relationship with Mama Maurita:
1 – Fr. Maciel had a difficult relationship with his father throughout his entire life.
2 – Fr. Maciel held his mother, who happens to have been a fervent Catholic and the niece of a bishop and a canonized saint (and who wanted to be a religious herself), in particularly high esteem.
3 – None of Fr. Maciel’s reported children (at least the ones we know about) were born until after Mama Maurita’s death. On the other hand, most of the sexual abuse allegations involving seminarians and young men seems to take place while she was still alive.
Again, I am not a psychologist. Nor was I ever Fr. Maciel’s spiritual or formation director. And having met, I never acted for him in any capacity as a canon lawyer. So this is only speculation on my part. However, it is an avenue those in the LC/RC may wish to consider in pursuing the truth about their founder.

What’s the frequency, Alvaro?

Several readers have asked me whether Jose Bonilla, the lawyer for three of Fr. Maciel’s alleged children, has a case against the Legionaries. Speaking as a canon lawyer, probably not. Fr. Maciel was a priest with a religious order. He was not supposed to own property personally, according to canon law, and most of what he raised was probably intended for the Legion, Regnum Christi, or various other apostolates – not for him personally, and certainly not for the support of his clandestine mistress and children.
Nevertheless, there might be a case if the children can substantiate rumors they were abused by Maciel. But this would be based upon their status as abuse victims, not as Fr. Maciel’s children.
In terms of the civil courts, I don’t know. I’m not a civil lawyer nor am I familiar with civil law in the Mexico, where these cases are reportedly being introduced. However, several readers have told me that Mexican civil law prohibits clergy from owning large amounts of property personally. So for the sake of the argument let’s exclude this possibility as well.
What’s left? Well, the court of public opinion.
From what Spanish-speaking readers are telling me, this has the potential to explode into South America’s Boston. Bonilla presents a perfect David behind who the secular press can rally as he faces down the Goliath of Legion secrecy, influence and power. The average person can sympathize and identify with him. Not because he’s a lawyer, but because he’s the loving father of a preschooler who suffered abuse is an Legion/RC-affiliated nursery school, for which he won a civil judgment after the school failed to cough up the accused perp.
Few media images break through the stereotype of litigators as cold, calculating, money-grubbing ambulance chasers. But a father crusading to stop the abuse suffered by his own child is one of them. Who would want their child to suffer the same horror? Show me a mother and father who, discovering their child had suffered such a horror, would not devote the rest of their life to taking down the system that allowed the abuse to happen? Thus as parents we are all Jose Bonilla – at least for the fifteen minutes in which we filter the story through the media.
And Fr. Alvaro, who appears desperate to reassure members that nothing is wrong, is struggling through his fifteen minutes as former Iraqi information minister Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf.
Which brings us to something else that strengthens Bonilla’s presentation before the court of public opinion: The Legion has allowed him to control the flow of information. In not fully disclosing the truth, in using vague terms to confirm only bits and pieces after the secular media reports it, the Legion is reacting to the scandal rather than guiding Catholics through it. This forces us to go to Bonilla and the secular media for information concerning the scandal.
We may question Bonilla’s presentation of the facts. Did Pope John Paul II really know these were Maciel’s children? We may wonder about some of the discrepancies in his presentation. How could the children, having received their First Holy Communion from Pope John Paul II, not have known their father was a priest until later in life? But with the Legion fog-tongued and stone-lipped (talk about a weird image!) even their most ardent apologists must turn to Bonilla for information about Maciel’s “double life”.

Imagine your son a priest unto the order of Maciel

An anonymous reader wrote in the comments box below:

My wife is a member of RC, […] On the one hand, she is quite shocked about the revelations concerning Fr. Maciel and disappointed in the current LC leadership (at least at the top) for failing to come clean, but on the other hand she likes and admires the LC priests and RC members at the local level. As her husband, I can say that she has developed spiritually in positive ways since joining, though sometimes I fear she is too influenced by opinions she hears by those in authority in RC. (In my case, I’d say that my experiences with LC have been rather mixed.) Here is the dilemma I am facing: though not a member, I am involved in an RC apostolate with my wife, and the question I keep asking myself and my wife is, at what point do we cease being victims of a cover-up and become co-perpetrators of it? In other words, naturally we don’t tell the people whom we want to benefit by this apostolate about the allegations concerning Fr. Maciel or about the possibility that members of LC knew about Fr. Maciel’s actions. We have made non-RC friends through this apostolate; naturally we don’t tell them about the allegations. Do we have a duty to tell them?

One of the biggest allegations to surface during this scandal is that the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi (LC/RC) use their schools and apostolates as “recruiting mechanisms” for the LC seminary. Who is in charge of this seminary formation? The priests at the top, or those with who you and your wife rub shoulders at the local level?
Knowing what you now know about the Legion and its founder, and suspecting what you don’t know with moral certitude but nevertheless feel has the “ring of truth” to it, are you comfortable with your son entering the Legion as a seminarian or your daughter consecrating herself a 3rd Degree member of Regnum Christi?
And what about these other parents you come into contact with? Would they be comfortable with either possibility for their children without knowing what is going on right now? Who will they blame if these allegations are proven down the road, once their children have been “integrated” into the movement? Will it just be Fr. Maciel and those at the top?
Will they still be your friends?
More importantly, can you live with your conscience? Knowing that you knew or had reason to suspect strongly, but intentionally concealed the information for the sake of “growing the Kingdom”?

It’s about the victims, Fr. Alvaro

Over at Life After RC, Giselle posts a poignant reminder that this scandal is not about Fr. Maciel or the movement he founded. This scandal, and the strong emotions it fuels among ordinary people, is about Fr. Maciel’s victims. Especially since they were thrice-victimized: First through the sexual abuse they reportedly suffered. Second through the unjust persecution and tarnishing of their good name when they came forward with serious and substantial allegations. And third, through the Legion’s failure to apologize publicly to them when strong evidence of Fr. Maciel’s “double life” emerged in the media.
Which is why Giselle’s point is one we cannot forget. As new evidence surfaces about Fr. Maciel’s sexual exploits with young women, let us remember that Nuestro Padre’s first alleged victims were the young men who entrusted their spiritual formation to his care:

Rome/February 28, 1997
Mr. Clifford L. Teutsch
Managing Editor
The Hartford Courant
285 Broad Street
Hartford, CT 06115
Dear Mr. Teutsch,
Regarding the accusations made against me in the Hartford Courant of Sunday, February 23, I wish to state that in all cases they are defamations and falsities with no foundation whatsoever, since during the years these men were in the Legion never in any way did I commit those acts with them, nor did I make any such advances to them nor was the suggestion of such acts ever mentioned.
During the time that these men were in the Legion of Christ and even after they had left, I spared no sacrifice to help them as much as I could-as I have always done with every person the Lord has put under my care. I do not know what has led them to make these totally false accusations 20, 30 and 40 years after leaving the congregation. I am all the more surprised since I still have letters from some of them well into the 1970s in which they express their gratitude and our mutual friendship.
Despite the moral suffering that this has caused me I bear no ill will toward them. Rather I offer my pain and prayers for each one of them, in hope that they will recover their peace of soul and remove from their hearts whatever resentment has moved them to make these false accusations.
Yours respectfully in Christ,
Marcial Maciel, L.C.