Click here if you don’t see subscription options
Austen IvereighApril 07, 2010

The first of two parts of a new Jason Berry investigation into the way the Legionaries of Christ oiled the Roman Curia through money and gifts is posted at NCR. It makes for shocking reading.

The Pope emerges unscathed; indeed, is singled out for refusing an envelope of cash. And it was Benedict XVI, of course, who suspended Legion founder Maciel against the wishes of the cardinals he had over the years bought off -- chief among them Sodano and Martinex Somalo.

But it is Benedict XVI who now has the reports of the official Vatican investigation into the Legion which, if it contains even some of what Berry has discovered in the course of a journalistic investigation, is a live grenade in his hands.

It is the dovetailing of corruption and the cover-up of sex abuse which is most toxic. Maciel's millions, spread around the Curia in the style of mafiosi throughout the ages, were designed to deflect scrutiny from his life as a drug addict and paedophile. And for most of John Paul II's pontificate, it succeeded.

That's why this is bigger than just the future of the Legion. It is about the ease with which Maciel got away with it because of his powerful backers in Rome -- and the way that support could be bought. What Benedict XVI does with and in consequence of these revelations could well define the rest of his pontificate.

This is rot. And it goes deep.

Austen Ivereigh

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Robert Mickens
13 years 8 months ago
If ever there was a monster that should have been chucked out of the priesthood, it was Marcial Maciel.
Why did Cardinal Levada and Pope Benedict XVI merely ''invite'' him to a secluded life of prayer and penance on 19 May 2006 and not dismiss him from the clerical state?
While flying to the United States on 15 April 2008 the pope said: “We will absolutely exclude paedophiles from the sacred ministry; it is absolutely incompatible, and whoever is really guilty of being a paedophile cannot be a priest.” 
Sadly, Maciel remained one until the day he died and was buried in his priestly vestments.
Ginger Jones
13 years 8 months ago
Berry also has written a very interesting article on Levada's chequered history in handling the sex abuse crisis:
Carolyn Disco
13 years 8 months ago
Will the minor seminarians sexually abused by Maciel and ripped apart for decades by the Legion's PR machine get an invitation to the Vatican with full apology from Benedict?
They were completely excluded from mention in Benedict's decision to ''invite'' Maciel to a life of prayer and penance. Their painful decades-long struggle for justice never even got a verdict of guilty for Maciel out of the Vatican.
The actor who played Christ in Gibson's movie was invited by JPII, why not the victims JPII ignored?
See www.vowsofsilence.com for the full story. Jason Berry and Gerald Renner's work is the essential reason the Maciel case was reopened after being shut down by Ratzinger, under pressure from that paragon of financial integrity, Angelo Sodano. Yet Sodano gets a prime slot to spout off during Holy Week about attacks on Benedict.
Jason Berry is the dean of Catholic journalists who has been writing for 26 years against incredible odds to get out the truth. Come to think of it, Jason should be invited for a lengthy consultation with Benedict, along with the survivors, his close friends - if Benedict really wants to understand the rotten landscape in his own backyard. But how could he not know after being there since 1981?
Jim McCrea
13 years 8 months ago
Jason Berry:  Santo Subito!
Craig McKee
13 years 8 months ago
This is 54 year old rot!http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/31208?eng=yOne anxiously awaits the findings of Archbishop Chaput et al. as well as the decision ofBenedict XVI.http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1001126.htm
Carolyn Disco
13 years 7 months ago
Re: http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/31208?eng=y
It is fascinating to see that 2005 piece by Sandro Magister in light of later revelations. I wonder if the seminarian who withdrew his accusation and the three who said they were in effect encouraged to lie would like to change their testimony. The pressure and fear of speaking out against Maciel, and the ways he could take revenge (and did) were no doubt severe, but how gratifying the truth has finally come out for those who did have the courage to come forward, no matter what.
The endnote about the Vatican putting out a press release saying there is no canonical case being pursued against Maciel was the dishonest, clever handiwork of Angelo Sodano. He who was on the receiving end of Maciel's generous gifts (ahem, bribes?) as follows per Jason Berry:
“Sodano came over with his entire family, 200 of them, for a big meal when he was named cardinal,” recalled Favreau. “And we fed them all. When he became secretary of state there was another celebration. He’d come over for special events, like the groundbreaking with a golden shovel for the House of Higher Studies. And a dinner after that.”
“Cardinal Sodano was the cheerleader for the Legion,” said one of the ex-Legionaries. “He’d come give a talk at Christmas and they’d give him $10,000.” Another priest recalled a $5,000 donation to Sodano.
What is left out is the $10,000 Maciel gave to a Cardinal Micara in post-war Italy, a huge sum at the time. Micara being the one who later ''reinstated'' Maciel during the interregnum between John 23 and Paul 6, but who had no authority to do so. The supposed document from the appropriate congregation has never surfaced.
Also, after the seminarians' accusations, the exonerating letter the Legion issued from the bishop who was part of that investigation is a forgery by all accounts. Maciel stopped at nothing.
Jim McCrea
13 years 7 months ago
Why people are shocked (shocked, I say:  shocked!!) that money talks at the Vatican is beyond me.
Who do you think gets easy access to your pastor' ear?  Your bishop's ear?
So why would/should the Vatican be any different - except the amounts are most likely higher than at the parish/diocesan level.

The latest from america

The choice by Pope Francis to release “Laudate Deum” eight years after the publication of “Laudato Si’” is an unusual one, signaling an imminent climate crisis.
Peter KnoxNovember 30, 2023
Speaking International Theological Commission at the Vatican, Pope Francis told theologians that "One of the great sins we have witnessed is ‘masculinizing’ the church.”
A Reflection for the Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle, by Cecilia González-Andrieu
Cecilia González-AndrieuNovember 30, 2023
Gloria Branciani alerted church authorities about Father Rupnik's behavior years ago, but her fight with the church system was, as she recalled, a lost battle.
Federica Tourn- OSV NewsNovember 30, 2023