Hartford Courant – 13 years after Breaking the Silence

Many Catholics now tuning into the Maciel scandal, as well as many who have followed the scandal over the past few years, keep hearing references to Jason Berry, Gerald Renner and their investigative journalism for the Hartford Courant that first broke Maciel’s “double life” to English-speaking audiences. While doing some research this morning, I came across an online reprint of the story – including some images of the original publication.
The article was published 13 years ago under the title Breaking the Silence: Head of Worldwide Catholic Order Accused of History of Abuse. Most of you are aware already of the controversy it would spark. Many have read the Legion’s subsequent responses to the story, as well as Renner and Berry’s responses to the responses. But have you read the original story?
This is your opportunity to do so. Please click here.

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

UPDATE: Who were Maciel’s first victims?

[UPDATE: On an interesting – but not as serious – side-note, Berry and Renner confirm that St. Rafael Guiza was among portly saints canonized by the Church. He reportedly struggled with obesity and diabetes, which I find interesting given last week’s discussion on how one rarely encounters portly priests in the Legion (click here).]
Initial Entry
I picked up Jason Berry and Gerald Renner’s Vows of Silence tonight (click here for the DVD with the same name, which includes a Spanish version), after RC Is Not My Life asked me to check the Jesuit connection to Fr. Maciel’s expulsion from the second seminary he attended. It seems that Maciel wasn’t just paranoid – the Jesuits were suspicious of Maciel and the Legion. Berry and Renner report that the Jesuits from the beginning suspected his sexual proclivities.
Yet what caught my eye in re-reading their chapter on Maciel’s seminary days was his expulsion from his uncle’s seminary, the first seminary Maciel attended. Particularly how it relates to the death of St. Rafael Guizar Valencia, who was Maciel’s uncle, sponsoring bishop and rector of the first seminary Maciel attended. Maciel always claimed expulsion due to a “misunderstanding” after his saintly uncle’s death. Berry and Renner explore the alleged misunderstanding, shedding the following light (carefully footnoted) on page 155:

Bishop Guizar died on June 6, 1938. The Legion history says that “misunderstandings” arose. “Marcial had to leave the seminary.” [LC priest and biographer Fr. J. Alberto] Villasana reports that two months after the “holy death” of his uncle, “the vicar-general of the vacant see and the new provisional rector expel from the seminary ‘the Bishop’s spoiled nephew who is planning a foundation‘”–a religious order. The italics are Villasana’s; the quotation is clearly Maciel’s interpretation of what the two churchmen of his uncle’s diocese thought of him. The self-absorbed Maciel misses the implication of two church superiors, in a persecuted land, washing their hands of a seminarian from an influential family. “Spoiled” begs the larger question: what in his character made them recoil?
An even darker explanation may underlie the expulsion. The day before Bishop Guizar died, he had been heard shouting angrily at Maciel. He was giving his eighteen-year-old nephew a dressing down after two women had come to the bishop’s house to complain about Maciel, who was their neighbor. Father Orozco, who was among the original group of boys to found the Legion of Christ in 1941, said he heard the women had complained about the “noise” Maciel was making with children he had brought into his home to teach religion. He said that the seminary officials blamed Maciel for his uncle’s heart attack.

Berry and Renner are careful in their presentation of the alleged incident. They don’t accuse Maciel of molesting children or indirectly causing his uncle’s death. Rather they present the testimony of someone who was present, noting unusual circumstances, and leave us to draw our own conclusions. But given what we now know of Maciel’s double-life, along with what we know about St. Rafael as a holy bishop who sought always what was right in the eyes of God despite the persecution he would suffer, I think we can conclude fairly that this incident concerned more than a mere “misunderstanding”.
As Berry and Renner point out in subsequent passages, the Catholic Church in Mexico was undergoing a severe persecution. The Church was starving for priests. Maciel was from an influential Church family that included two bishops. Yet as Berry and Renner state, two church superiors nevertheless expelled Maciel from his uncle’s seminary.
But let’s look at this from the perspective of other parties who were present. What would compel two church ladies – who, in allowing their children to be catechized during a time of persecution, were likely risking their lives and the physical welfare of their children – to come forward and denounce the seminarian nephew of a bishop much beloved by the Catholic faithful?
One might argue they were anti-Catholic agents who were trying to bring embarrassment upon the Church, but this doesn’t fit the circumstances. First, they approached St. Rafael with their allegations, rather than civil authorities who were looking for any stick with which to beat the Church. Second, St. Rafael acted on their complain, jacking up his nephew in anger. What would compel this holy man of God to tear down his own flesh and blood seeking to follow in his footsteps unless he found the women and/or their allegations credible?
So once again we find Maciel’s life as murky as his sexual proclivities. Which begs the question, who were Maciel’s first victims?

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.

Fr. Maciel had dual personality, says Cardinal

In a story circulating South American and European media, Santiago’s Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz appeared nationally on Chilean TV and said: “Los médicos cercanos al padre Maciel han dicho que tenía dos personalidades distintas. No solamente un tema de doble vida. En un momento era el fundador y en otro era un pobre hombre.”
Here’s how a Spanish-speaking reader translates His Imminence’s words: “Doctors close to Father Maciel have said that he had two distinct personalities. [….] In one moment he was a founder, and in another he was a poor man.”
The article also states that Fr. Maciel injected himself with Demerol, my translator tells me, adding that seminarians ran the pharmacy for him. Coincidentally, Demerol is believed to have been Michael Jackson’s pain-killer of choice. This begs the question whether Fr. Maciel apologists, attempting to gain sympathy for the founder, are now shifting from the Clinton strategy to the Michael Jackson strategy. (Maciel and Michael are both reported to have suffered a stormy childhood at the hands of abusive fathers, both attracted millions of followers making noise that people wanted to hear, both faced legal investigations over allegations of sexual abuse involving minors, and now the addiction to Demerol allegations.)
That being said, there’s serious questions to be asked if the dual-personality explanation is taken at face value. Why do no one in the Legion notice Fr. Maciel was switching back and forth between personalities? If it’s because he was never the “hombre” when around the Legion, then how was he able to switch so conveniently between personalities? And how sure is the Legion leadership that the Hombre Maciel personality never played a role int eh founding of the Legion of Christi/ Regnum Christi movement?
I’m afraid this attempt at an explanation raises more questions than it resolves.
Speaking about cardinals and Fr. Maciel, Cassandra has just posted another blog entry on who knew what in the Holy See. Cassandra speculates that recent news reports implicating Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Bertone in the coverup may have confused Pope Benedict’s longtime loyal supporter with previous secretary of state Cardinal Sodano. Not only is Sodano a close friend of the Legion, but his relationship with the current pope has often been stormy, and he has reportedly tried to undermine Pope Benedict’s papal authority in the past.
As Cassandra states:

Sanjuana Martínez reported in CIMAC that one of the babymommies alleges that Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, is implicated in the payment of hush money. That would make for a stupendous scandal if the churchman organizing the apostolic visitation had been previously involved in silencing witnesses, especially after calling for “transparency” in the letter announcing the visitation.
I do not and will not believe that allegation without further evidence. But I wondered if either she or Martínez could have meant to name rather the emeritus Secretary of State, Angelo Sodano, whom we know to have been at the service of the Legionaries in the past.