Legionaries sideline Maciel

Two regional directors of the Legionaries of Christ -- which is not quite the same as their Director General -- have apologised to the sexual abuse victims of the organisation's founder, Fr Marcial Maciel Degollado, and say that the Legion is on "a long road of healing and reconciliation with those who have been wounded by the misconduct of Fr Maciel".  

The letter, dated 1 September, which is addressed to the members of the Legion and its lay arm, Regnum Christi, is being carried by ACI Prensa (in Spanish here). It is signed by Fr Scott Reilly, regional director for Atlanta, and Fr Julio Martí, New York regional director, but its content is drawn from the "thoughts and recommendations" of the Legion's director-general. 


"As priests our hearts are united with all those who have suffered or who have been scandalized by these actions", the two priests say, referring to those of Fr Maciel. "To all we ask a special pardon in the name of Fr Álvaro Corcuera, Legion Director, who has begun personally and in private to meet with those he knows have suffered most, and offering them a deeply felt pardon and consolation."

Fathers Reilly and Martí regret their "inability to detect, and then to accept and remedy the faults of Fr Maciel which have caused so much suffering". 

The letter comes just a couple of weeks after a Mexican attorney claimed that four of Fr Maciel's alleged illegimate children will be suing the Legion. The priests' letter says it is impossible in a short time to evaluate the claims, and cannot therefore comment.

What they can say is that members and friends of the Legionaries have been in shock, denial and anger over the revelations, and say that this -- as well as the Christian duty not to publicise the faults of others -- has made it difficult to issue a more direct statement.

The priests also say that the Legion is conducting a root-and-branch review of all is procedures, and making a number of changes. Although they cannot disown him as their founder, the Legionaries say they have taken steps to purge the organisation of his omnipresence, removing his photo from bookcounters, etc.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
9 years 6 months ago
The first paragraph of your article is not completely accurate.
''Two regional directors of the Legionaries of Christ - which is not quite the same as their Director General - have apologised to the sexual abuse victims of the organisation's founder, Fr Marcial Maciel Degollado, and say that the Legion is on 'a long road of healing and reconciliation with those who have been wounded by the misconduct of Fr Maciel'. '' 
The Legion has not apologized to Father Maciel's abuse victims at all, unless you believe that, by addressing the letter to ''Regnum Christi Members and Friends'' this somehow includes Father Maciel's victims.  Highly doubtful.
9 years 6 months ago
Has any "proof" been offered or seen that Fr. Maciel actually fathered one or more children? Or, as you state above, "sexually abused" anyone? A letter by a Mexican attorney to sue is nothing. 
I've been quite taken aback by the seeming vengence and even gleeful reporting over the accusations towards Fr. Maciel -and over his "purging" on this America blog at various times. What dastardly deeds did the Legionaries do? Surely that the Legionaries had support of John Paul II can't be in itself a reason - or can it?
9 years 6 months ago
What!  they say  ''this - as well as the Christian duty not to publicise the faults of others has made it difficult to issue a more direct statement'' It's not the fault of ''others'' it's THEIR FAULT!  They haven't learned yet have they.  It's still all about power, Maciel taught them well!  Dissolve this Cult!
9 years 6 months ago
There was no direct apology made to victims of sexual abuse, neither in private nor in public and you are really reading between the lines to think that it has apologised for it, which is exactly what the Legion wants you to think.
In fact, the Legion of Christ has not admitted that Maciel has sexually abused any former Legionaries or in fact anyone. Neither has it apologised to anyone directly or indirectly for Maciel sexually abusing anyone.
Here the two LC North America TDs apolgoise for Maciel's mideeds. I am a victim of sexual abuse by a Legionary priest and I do not see this as an apology to me for sexual abuse in the Legion.
Not once has the Legion of Christ or Alvaro Corcuera apologised to me or to any of the victims that we have known so long - Jose Barba, Juan Vaca and the many others - for sexual abuse.
Neither has it apologised to the parents of the young child in a mexican LC pre-school who was abused by the Gym teacher. The Father of this child successfully sued the Legion of Christ and the school director for neglect and actual blame.
If you do not say what you are apologising for then it is an insincere and ineffective apology. Every priest should know that.
I do not believe that these "apologies" are sincere, and I do not believe that Alvaro is apologising to victims of sexual abuse. I know for a fact there are many who have suffered gravely over decades, known to the legion and to the media, and have had no apology.
Every single person who has claimed to have been abused by Maciel or another Legionary priest has ONLY receevied doubt and disbelief from the Legion of Christ. It has NEVER admitted ANY allegation of sexual abuse to be true. And this is devastating to the victims.
The Legion of Lies, deceipt and false, controlling rhetotoric continues as usual in the footsteps of its founder.
9 years 6 months ago

I have the privilege of knowing a Maciel survivor, Juan Vaca, a psychology professor. Forty years after being abused, Juan’s wife told me of his waking in terror from nightmares, calling Maciel’s name to stop. Like all boys approaching puberty, Juan had been given a whip for self-flagellation to ward off impure thoughts or acts. They were trained to believe that leaving the Legion meant going to hell; the mantra they learned was “lost vocation, sure damnation.” Read I Am Looking for Boys Like You: The Unspeakable Ordeal of Juan Jose Vaca.

The Vatican canonist who investigated the canon case has personally apologized to victims, but NOT the Legion. Maciel was expelled from two seminaries in Mexico, and ordained only after private study with one of his three bishop uncles. Late in life, he pushed for his mother to be declared a saint, and told supporters not to start his canonization until 30 years after his death. Church authorities have known of Maciel’s sexual depravity reported in anguished sworn statements by LC priests in 1954 and 1956. Maciel was reinstated in 1959 by a cardinal with questionable authority to do so during a drug addiction/abuse investigation in the interregnum between Pius XII and John XXIII; it so happened Maciel had given the cardinal $10,000 in cash in 1946, a huge sum in post-war Rome. The Legion is known for its lavish gifts of money, fine wines, $1,000 Spanish hams and even a luxury car. See Jason Berry’s latest coverage.

9 years 6 months ago
In response to John Stangle:
1 - The Legion itself admits that their founder fathered a daughter. This is one of the things stated in the letter. So the issue is now beyond dispute.
2 - As for evidence of sexual abuse, there are several accusers, independently of one another, at different times and places, describing the same MO vis-a-vis how Maciel groomed and abused them.
3 - The fact the Legion had the support of John Paul II, a holy man of God who certainly would not have described Maciel as an "efficacious guide to youth" had the saintly Pontiff known about Maciel's sexual proclivities, raises several questions about whether the approval was sought in good faith. Especially since Pope Benedict, subsequent to his papal election, has suppressed certain controversial practices within the Legion (as admitted in the letter by the two superiors) that make it easier for a sexual abuser  to access victims while covering up his tracks.
4 - As for what dastardly deeds the Legionaries are alleged to have perpetuated, I would invite you to check out a number of Catholic blogs that fall upon the conservative and ultra-montane end of the spectrum. They are even more critical of the Legion than what you are reading from the more progressive end. Why? Because we are the ones who, in good faith, put our reputations on the line to defend Fr. Maciel and the Legion, as living saints, when it was obvious he was anything but. We are also the ones who were hung to dry when the Legion failed to apologize to Maciel's victims, which they have an obligation in justice to do, having acted in a way such as to undermine their good name.
9 years 6 months ago
Okay, show us some proof. Not stories, not innuendos, , not claims by supposed fathered  children or the 20 or 40 or so women who claim to have children by him, not claims of abuse by ex- members, not claims by present leaders. How about something like a DNA test and make sure it is a split sample and has a chain of custody. Sexual abuse claims against the dead are the newest fad.
I also know a priest put to the rack, stuck in prison for years, under suspect by all, headlined in prestigious  newspapers all due to accusations of sexual abuse by two lying young criminals he tried to help. Not that there arn't sexual abuse cases, but the rewards of a sexual abuse claim can be great. For the 'victim' and for the attorney representing them. Money, fame, power, influence, sympathy. No mystery here of why it is done.
What were Henry VIII's reasons to steal property of religious, destroy Abbeys and churches and murder monks. He was on a bandwagon that hardly anyone opposed. Greed has no bounds and and that it is so easy to get on the greedy sexual abuse bandwagon is evident.
9 years 6 months ago
The LC priests that you refer to as innocent are NOT innocent. They have left MANY victims in their wake. They have destroyed friendships, families & innocent reputations. They have exploited the sincere efforts of those under their care to grow in holiness & humility and used their weaknesses (pride & vanity) against them. They have flattered them to the point that they are living pharisees. They have psychologically manipulated them to the point that they are emotionally attached to them and cannot imagine life without them. They have worked in a programmed and systematic way to do this. They can live without Maciel but they cannot live without their LC priest. This angers me the most because these people came to them in good conscience. Oh yeah, and all this was ''for the sake of the movement.''
9 years 6 months ago
Your argument holds no weight whatsoever...........because the original 8 sexual molestation victims of Maciel have never sought one dime from the Legion.  'Nuff said.
As for Maciel's children, well, knowing how tightly the Legion holds onto its money, I have no doubt they would not be acknowledging ANY progeny of Maciel if they did not have absolute proof to convince them of it.  Why don't you ask the Legion about the proof, as they are the ones acknowledging at least several of Maciel's children at this point?
So the sexual molestation victims don't want money, and the people who DO want the money-Maciel's progeny-apparently have not lied about their identities, or I am quite sure the Legion would have cried ''We want a DNA test!'' right from the get-go.  Quite simply, the Legion has utter certainty these children are Maciel's.
So who is lying here?  Who should we believe now that we know that the Legion has lied to us for years about Maciel's sanctity (because even the Legion is admitting they have known about the mistress/child for some time, yet they kept adulating Maciel as a veritable saint up till February of this year)?
I do not experience any glee about this, but I AM utterly relieved and thankful to God that at last the truth about this cultish organization is coming out.  Praise God!  Finally some justice for those abused by Maciel and his followers for 65 years.  What Catholic would NOT be filled with gratitude to God to see such evil revealed for what it is so that justice can be served and no other innocent victims abused (whether physically, emotionally, sexually, spiritually, or psychologically)?
9 years 6 months ago
Show proof Maciel fathered a daughter? Dude, you're way behind on your Legion spin. That's so 2008.
You need to drop by the Legion's official website and read the letter written by the two Legion major superiors for America, in which both state clearly Maciel fathered a child. Or if German is your fetish, stop by the Legion-owned Zenit, click on last Friday's German edition, and you can read a similar letter from the Legion's provincial superior for Germany.
That's three major superiors within the Legion making the claim via Legion media, all stating they have the support of the Legion's Big Tequila Fr. Alvaro to do so.
So who is lying? Maciel? Or the man who succeeded him as head of the Legion, in conjuction with three of his major superiors?
9 years 6 months ago
I am a member of Regnum Christi who joined AFTER Maciel was "retired" by the Vatican.  The news of him fathering a child came shortly after I joined.  I was disgusted and disappointed, but chose not to leave RC.  Why?  Perhaps it's because, being an American RC member, I don't have the adulation of Maciel that Mexican RC members have-I never did-and therefore can see Regnum Christi for the good and fruitful entity that it is, separate from its founder.  Here's what I DID see in RC, and still DO:
1.  The Catholic formation my children have received from attending a Legionary school is second to none.  Period.  Their love and knowledge of Christ and his Church is beautiful.
2. The Legionary priests I have met, and I have met many, are all consistently good, humble men whose primary goal is to bring souls to Christ.  Not once have I felt pushed, manipulated, threatened, or deceived by a Legionary priest.  In fact, I was going to Spiritual Direction with a Legionary priest for over a year before he even approached the subject of me joining RC-and then, he only mentioned it ONCE and then let it go.  Hardly a pressure tactic.
3.  Some of the holiest people I know are RC.  I know many many people who profess to be Catholic; the ones I see LIVING their faith are mainly RC.
4.  The Legion has the strictest of norms involving women and children.  They do not ride in cars alone with women or children.  They are never alone with women or children. All meetings occur in rooms with windows or out in the open.  When on retreats, they sleep off the premises where children and women sleep.  They do not eat lunch alone with women.  They don't hug people (if someone succeeds in hugging them they do not hug back).   They do not spend the night in households which have children.  They take pictures with their hands folded in front of them.  All of this surely came as a result of Maciel's infractions, to be sure.  If you want to be cynical, say they do all this to protect themselves.  It doesn't change the fact that they do it and my children are safer for it.  It tells me RC is taking Maciel's wrongdoings seriously.  In my opinion, all priests, regardless of order, should follow these norms.
5.  Maciel has taken a back seat.  Big time.  I was among those who initially, when I enrolled my children in the Legionary school four years ago, was put off by those who were "Father Macielists"-referring to him as "Nuestro Padre" and all that.  What I found was that not every RC member shared that adulation, that RC was much more than that.  I was very happy to see that RC took the steps to take down his pictures.  It tells me RC is taking Maciel's wrongdoings seriously. 
6.  I'm not rich; I don't donate anything to the Legion or RC other than $30 a month in membership dues (which is $80 less than my gym dues, and I get ETERNAL benefits with RC) and I am treated with as much respect and pastoral concern as anyone else.
7.  I have grown much closer to Christ and have become a better mother, wife, daughter and friend through my involvement with RC and through the guidance of my LC spiritual director.  That is REAL and of lasting importance.
As far as the Legion's failure to apologize, the two priests who wrote the letter of  September 1st apologize quite plainly on the Legion's behalf.  I would refer to that as a "general" apology.  Many other Legionaries have published general apologies in letters to various different audiences as well.  That "particular" apologies should be made to each and every victim is the ideal and I pray that happens because it is so vital to the victim's healing process.  Logistically, I don't know how that can happen, since everyone who claims to be a victim would theoretically have to be confirmed as such first (would you apologize to someone you really didn't hurt?  Can you say with 100% certainty that there is not one single person among all the victims that is taking advantage of the situation for personal gain?).  It takes time. 
Father Maciel committed terrible deeds, and unfortunately his victims will have to live with the effects of his sins the rest of their lives.  But for some strange reason, God chose to bring about RC through him, and RC bears good fruit.  So put the blame where it belongs-on Maciel and his cronies-but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Maciel's victims include a LOT of LC priests and RC members who genuinely love Christ and want to grow the Kingdom, and find in RC a genuine way to do so.  They suffer the flack of Maciel's misconduct in the form of disillusionment, betrayal, and the scorn of many.
9 years 6 months ago
It's so not about Maciel's sins at this point.  He's dead, and his abuse victims will have to live the rest of their lives never having seen any justice on this earth for the horrible suffering they endured at his molesting hands.
It's about the methodology.  The entire structure of the Legion was designed in such a way that Maciel was able to live a life of 65 years of sexual deviance, debauchery, embezzlement, and fraud.  A structure built to let a man get away with that-all while being adulated and venerated as a living saint! I was here, I KNOW how the LC measured every one of their actions by "What would Nuestro Padre do?" -is a structure built on some very evil methodology.  Think 4th Vow and a very messed up notion of charity (Maciel's stated definition "Always believe the good about people, never the bad. Only believe the evil you see with your own eyes, and that should be excused internally".  Tell me that isn't a PEDOPHILE'S DREAM.  The LC read only his works and the Bible (probably in that order!) as their sole source of spiritual nourishment.  65 years of taking the Church's teachings on virtue and twisting them into ideas that would allow this criminal to get away with his evil crimes, perpetrated on so many people, including 10 and 11 year old innocent boys.
You say, "Some of the holiest people I know are RC.  I know many many people who
profess to be Catholic; the ones I see LIVING their faith are mainly RC."  Read those words and see if you can't discern the pride and elitism there. 
Not only that, but I will never trust outward signs of piety and holiness again.  I can't tell you the number of times I have heard how "holy" Maciel was over the past decade!!  The outward signs of holiness mean nothing to me know, and I will never trust any LC/RC's notions about holiness after being told for years by them that Maciel was the pinnacle of holiness that all should strive for.
You can't eat, drink, and breathe Maciel for 65 years and not be messed up by it.  You can't live by his twisted norms and constitutions and notions of virtues without being affected by it. The simple fact of the matter is that I will never trust the discernment and judgment of the LC/RC again, after all that I have seen over the past decade.  The organization covered up for 65 years of lies, abuse, and fraud.  Plenty of people had to know.  Yet they continued to have the children venerate Maciel in the schools (and don't tell me this isn't true-I am a mother of children who were in the schools up till last year) up until February of this year.  They celebrated his feast days, anniversaries, etc, as if he were already canonized!  They allowed the boys in the Apostolic schools to read only Maciel and the Bible for their spiritual development.
So it's about MUCH MORE than Maciel's sins at this point.  It's about the methodology that LC/RC are steeped in.  The methodology that even now has the LC leadership lying and spinning to cover their backsides.


The latest from america

In this episode, we will share the story of Marie Collins, an Irish survivor who became an advocate for victims of sexual abuse and served on the pontifical commission for the Protection of minors at the Vatican.
Deliver UsMarch 19, 2019
Mourners hug on March 18 after visiting the Masjid Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, the site of a terrorist attack last Friday. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
First, reach out to your neighbors and local mosque to show concern and compassion. Then call out those in your life who dehumanize others.
Saadia AhmadMarch 19, 2019
This undated photograph shows a close-up of the table where executions are carried out by lethal injection at San Quentin State Prison in California. (CNS photo/courtesy of California Department of Corrections)
Everything about the death penalty system seemed to be designed to deny hope. 
George WilliamsMarch 19, 2019
“We need a permanent legislative solution for those who have spent their lives contributing and living in the United States, the country they know as home,” Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Tex., and chairman of the U.S. Bishops Committee on Migration, said while endorsing the latest iteration of
J.D. Long-GarcíaMarch 19, 2019