Difficult times for the Legionaries of Christ

Catholic Order Jolted by Reports That Its Founder Led a Double Life , by Laurie Goodstein. New York Times:

The Legionaries of Christ, an influential Roman Catholic religious order, has been shaken by new revelations that its founder, who died a year ago, had an affair with a woman and fathered a daughter just as he and his thriving conservative order were winning the acclaim of Pope John Paul II.

Before his death, the founder, the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, had been forced to leave public ministry by Pope Benedict XVI because of accusations from more than a dozen men who said he had sexually abused them when they were students.

But most members of the Legion continued to defend Father Maciel, asserting that the accusations had not been proved. Father Maciel died in January 2008 at the age of 87, and was buried in Mexico, where he was born.

Now the order’s general director, the Rev. Álvaro Corcuera, is quietly visiting its religious communities and seminaries in the United States and informing members that their founder led a double life, current and former Legionaries said.

Thomas Peters @ American Papist has more:

Suffice it to say that Pope Benedict’s disciplinary actions against Maciel and interventions in Legionary practice were fully justified, and that the Legionaries of Christ have some hard decisions to make with regards to how they respond to this crisis concerning the founder. The eyes of the world are on them, and the prayers of the universal Church are with them. It is somewhat encouraging to see that the current head of the LC’s personally saw to it that a thorough investigation took place. Now let’s hope they follow through on their discoveries.

Other points to consider:

  • There are many good and holy Legionary priests. I have been privileged to know several. The sins of the founder ought never be visited upon their heads, ever. Similarly, the Legionaries of Christ serve the Church in many important ways, these good things they have done must never be ignored.
  • People who entered the Church through contact with the Legionaries of Christ or Regnum Christi, or whose faith life is closely identifiable with the movement, ought not to have their faith in the one true Church of Christ be shaken by the personal faults and failings of Marcial Maciel.
  • However …. there remains a serious charge to be made about how the Legion has handled the allegations of misconduct against Maciel up to this point. Something along the lines of renouncing Maciel as their spiritual founder or perhaps spiritually “re-founding” the order might well be the appropriate response. For a start.

Further News

  • Legion Regrets Founder’s Conduct: Congregation Apologizes for Scandal Zenit News. February 4, 2009:

    Some aspects of the life of Father Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, were incompatible with the priesthood, according to a spokesman for the congregation.

    “We are pained and grieved for any offenses that Father Maciel’s actions have inflicted on the Church and her members. We apologize for the scandal this has caused,” Jim Fair said in a statement today to ZENIT.

  • In the Wake of Painful News: Fr Alvaro´s Letter to Regnum Christi Members The following letter from Fr Alvaro Corcuera, LC, is addressed to all Regnum Christi members in the wake of the recent news about Father Marcial Maciel, LC. February 6, 2009.

Commentary

  • “Way, Truth and Life” Amy Welborn (Charlotte Was Both).
  • “This is no time for happy face stickers”, by Patrick Madrid:

    One thing is for sure, though. If the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi movement are going to emerge from this crucible in one piece and remain in existence for the long haul, they cannot lapse into robot mode, they cannot don a happy-face mask and attempt to deny that this is a very serious problem for them. At this precise juncture, denial and dismissal of the clear and present danger that this situation poses to the Legion, will, I believe, sooner or later, prove fatal to its efforts at sustaining itself.

    Again, we must keep this unfolding situation clearly in perspective and not sucumb to the various myopic temptations that beckon: at one end, to shrug and simply ignore it as a non-issue, and at the other end, to join in a gleeful feeding-frenzy of morose delectation. Already, on the blogs, one can see people falling into both camps.

  • Stay tuned to American Papist, as Thomas Peters follows this story with roundups and exclusive commentary.
“God help the good ones, God heal the broken ones, and God have mercy on the ones who sinned.”
Cathleen Kaveny Commonweal
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