Fr. Marcial Maciel – Influence and Sodomy

Posted by Censor Librorum on Feb 15, 2008 | Categories: Scandals

fr-maciel.jpgThe Rev. Marcial Maciel, a Mexican priest who founded the Legion of Christ religious order and was disciplined by Pope Benedict XVI after a sexual abuse investigation, died January 30, 2008 in Houston. He was 87.

Mariel was born in Mexico in 1920. He founded the Legion of Christ in Mexico City in 1941, and it is one of the fastest growing orders in the Catholic Church, with more than 700 priests and 2,500 seminarians in 20 countries.

It was well-regarded by the late Pope John Paul II in particular because of its conservative views, loyalty to church teaching, and its success in recruiting young men for the priesthood.

He was also “the greatest fund-raiser in the modern church, using his order…and its lay wing, Regun Christi, to attract wealthy supporters” said Jason Berry, who is producing a documentary on the sex abuse claims based on a book he co-authored, “Vows of Silence.”

Maciel’s reputation began to tarnish in 1997, when nine former members of the order accused Maciel of abusing them when they were boys, aged 10-16, in seminaries in Spain and Italy.

Maciel and the Legion vigorously denied the allegations and accused the men of forming a conspiracy to defame him. He appeared to have the Vatican’s full support until 2005.

That is when church officials, under the direction of then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, reopened a canon law investigation that had been inexplicably squelched in 1999. Within days, Maciel announced he was retiring as head of the Legion, but denied it had anything to do with the accusations against him.

The accusers–two Americans, five Mexicans and two Spanish citizens–had tried for years to call their accusations to the attention of John Paul II but were unsuccessful. In fact, the Pope appointed Maciel as his personal representative to a high-level meeting on the Americas, signaling his full support of the priest, shortly after the allegations were publicized in 1997.

After John Paul’s death, however, Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, moved to sanction Maciel. He was arguably the highest ranking priest to be censured in the sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church.

“It’s a very hard time for me to speak. At this moment I am still trying to get my emotions under control,” said Juan Vaca of Holbrook, NY, one of Maciel’s nine accusers, when he heard the news of his death. “I am a believer in God’s mercy, so I think God is taking care of this situation, but at the same time I am still expecting some justice and truth to prevail on this earth.”

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One Response to “Fr. Marcial Maciel – Influence and Sodomy”

  1. Nihil Obstat » Blog Archive » Pious Trash: Cardinal Angelo Sodano Finally Gets Dumped Says:

    […] general of the Legion of Christ.  Maciel was respected by many within the Vatican, including Pope John Paul II, as a prolific fund raiser and seminarian recruiter. Near the time of his death in 2005 he was […]

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