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.