Marcial Maciel Steps Down As Head Of Legion Of Christ

The Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, the subject of a Vatican investigation into accusations of sexual abuse, has stepped down as head of the Rome-based religious order Legionaries of Christ.


Announcement from
Mexican who founded order steps down–legionariesofchri0124jan24,0,1018955.story?coll=ny-region-apconnecticut

Hartford Courant
Catholic Leader Steps Down
Founder Of Order Under Vatican Probe

January 25, 2005
By GERALD RENNER, Special to The Courant,0,3990531.story

Reuters, Jan 25, 2005
Catholic order head quits as abuse probe to open
[same article appears in/on news (India)
The Archangel Report
WorldNews Network]

WCBS News Radio
Mexican who founded order steps down–LegionariesofChri-mn/resources_news_html
Also published in:
The Chicago Sun-Times
Kansas City Star

Catholic World News
Scrutiny on resignation of Legionaries’ founder (2 reports)

(we offer our own translations of some excerpts. ReGAIN board.)

CNI TV Mexico
No tengo nada personal contra el padre Maciel

Catholic order head quits as abuse probe to open

Nouveau cas de protection de pédophiles par le Vatican

Renucia de Marcial Maciel debido a presiones del Vaticano
The resignation of the leader of the Legionaries of Christ, Marcial Maciel, on whom accusations of paedophilia rest, was today attributed to “pressure from the Vatican”, on the reopening of the cases of sexual abuse against him.
Lawyer and priest, Antonio Roqueni, specialist in canon law and ex assesor to Archbishop primate of Mexico, Ernesto Corripio Ahumada, indicated that, to the eight people who originally accused Maciel of sexual abuse, ‘many more’ have been added.
Roqueni, who was one of the first defenders of the seminarians abused by the now 84 year old Mexican priest Maciel, affirmed that he had received ‘with great pleasure’ the news that yesterday Maciel decided to stop leading the Legion of Christ.

Documentan más denuncias de abusos sexuales del padre Maciel. Se suman casos de víctimas de pederastia en Irlanda, Estados Unidos y España
[More accusations of sexual abuse by Fr. Maciel are documented. Cases of victims of abuse from Ireland, the United States, and Spain are added.]


Legion Leaves Senior On The Street

The Statement of John T. Walsh Jr.
January 11, 2005


I am writing with regard to the Legion of Christ, Inc., a Catholic non-profit congregation located in Cheshire, Connecticut. The purpose of my letter is to make you aware of some of the details of the fraudulent and unlawful practices utilized by the Legion of Christ in soliciting donations from me and to request any assistance you may be able to provide.

As I have detailed more fully below, the Legion of Christ exerted undue influence over me through never-ending and persistent solicitation of donations, culminating in the transfer of my home located at 226 Highview Drive in Stratford, Connecticut to them in November of 2003. In addition, the Legion of Christ’s representatives made several false representations to me that I relied on prior to executing the quitclaim deed. Finally, I truly believe that the practices and schemes described herein are commonly engaged in by the Legion of Christ and are not limited to only my experience. The background and details of this unlawful practice are as follows:
Approximately six to seven years ago, I was introduced to the Legion of Christ by a friend. At this time, I began contributing $10 per month to the Legion of Christ as a donation. In addition to this charity, I paid $10 per month to approximately 30 other charities and worthy causes. Several years ago, after I won third prize in a Legion of Christ raffle and a $500 prize, I began contributing $30 per month instead of $10 per month to the Legion of Christ.

In 2002, I was contacted by a fundraiser with the Legion of Christ. Subsequently, I was visited by two seminarians who told me that one of them was going to be ordained sometime that year and the other the following year. Each of these would be done in Rome by the Pope they claimed. The seminarians next discussed whether I would contribute money to the Legion of Christ. I told them that I wanted to contribute to the Eternal World Television Network (EWTN)instead of the Legion. The seminarians responded that the Legion needed priests, and a scholarship for a future priest would benefit them. I then agreed that I would contribute $2,500 per year for four years (total $10,000)towards a scholarship for a priest.

After making two other donations totaling another $15,000 (which I believe I was pressured into), I met with several members of the Legion of Christ. They asked me whether I would transfer my house to the Legion of Christ to support priests. I tentatively agreed, and they prepared several options through which I could transfer my home or the proceeds there from to them. Subsequently, I quitclaimed my home to the Legion of Christ and retained only a life estate and the payments on a $100,000 Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)secured by the property.

In 2003, I had been recently widowed and was 78 years old. I was living on a fixed income of just over $1,600 per month, and my only significant asset was the equity in my home, which I had owned since 1968. Prior to my transferring the home, the Legion of Christ discouraged me from speaking with friends or family regarding the property transfer. This was an apparent attempt to isolate me from the people who could have discussed my decision to transfer the home and its impact on my finances. Indeed, during a lunch with several representatives from the Legion of Christ attended by me and my son just prior to the transaction, the transfer of my home was not discussed until my son had left the affair. Furthermore, at the instruction of the Legion of Christ, I was not represented by my own attorney located in Stratford, but was represented by counsel hand-picked by the Legion of Christ from East Haven.

Throughout the transaction, I felt extremely pressured by representatives from the Legion of Christ to transfer my home to them. I never felt that the option to not transfer my home (or the proceeds from its sale)to the Legion of Christ existed. The Legion of Christ was made aware of my fragile financial position throughout the transfer process, yet chose to proceed despite this knowledge. It is clear that several false representations were made by the Legion of Christ, including: (1)a promise that I would not be responsible for the payment of property taxes associated with the property after the transfer; (2)a promise that I would not experience any financial hardship as a result of the transfer of my only significant asset to the Legion of Christ; and (3)a promise that, by virtue of the transfer, I would be eligible for Medicaid benefits if I required any medical assistance whatsoever.

In actuality, my property taxes increased by almost $2,000 per year as a result of the property transfer to the Legion of Christ. The payments on my HELOC on the property ($20,000 of which was donated to the Legion of Christ and $5,000 of which was donated to another member of the Regnum Christi movement)remain due. The amounts of these payments are steadily increasing as the interest rate associated with the loan rises. Because of this transfer, I no longer have the ability to draw funds from the equity in my home (1)to pay the amount due under the HELOC, (2)to pay the amount due for the property tax increase, (3)to pay for uncovered health-related services, or (4)to pay for any other unforeseen expenses.

Additionally, my living expenses are rapidly increasing, and are beginning to exceed the fixed-income I rely on. To summarize, as a direct result of the Property transfer, I will, in the very near future, no longer have the means to support myself. The Legion of Christ pressured a man in a stable financial position and forced him into an extremely compromised financial position.

I respectfully request that you consider the information contained herein. It is patently unjust and wrong that organizations such as the Legion of Christ are able to use their religious affiliation to take advantage of citizens like me while facing no repercussions whatsoever. On two different occasions, I have asked the Legion of Christ to return my home to me. Both of these requests, however, have been summarily denied. I have also written to all of the Catholic bishops in the United States to determine whether they can be of any assistance to me.


Originally posted on:


Lawyer says Vatican may review complaints against Legionaries’ head

MACIEL Jan-7-2005 (1,150 words) With photo posted Nov. 30, 2004. xxxn

Lawyer says Vatican may review complaints against Legionaries’ head

By Jerry Filteau
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — A previously dormant case against Legionaries of Christ founder Father Marcial Maciel Degollado could be reopened at the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a Vatican lawyer said in a letter to three former Legionaries who accuse the priest of molesting them when they were minors.

“It seems to me that now the case is being taken seriously,” Martha Wegan said in a letter to the men who made the accusations. Wegan is a staff attorney for the Holy See who specializes in cases involving church law.

Catholic News Service obtained a copy of her letter after Gerald Renner, who broke the original story of the accusations in the United States in 1997, reported on the possible reopening of the case Jan. 3 in The Hartford (Conn.) Courant.

In a statement in response to a CNS inquiry, the Legionaries’ U.S. spokesman, Jay Dunlap, said, “The Legion of Christ is not aware that the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith has taken in the past or is now taking any action regarding accusations against its founder.”

In her Italian-language letter, dated Dec. 2, Wegan wrote that for the first time the doctrinal congregation now has a permanent promoter of justice — roughly the equivalent of a prosecutor in the church court system — instead of temporary appointees named for individual cases. Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna, a priest from Malta, was appointed to that post in October 2002.

Msgr. Scicluna “telephoned me asking if you … want to pursue the suit or not,” Wegan wrote. “I said that I don’t have much contact with you, but I can ask, though I am convinced that you want to go ahead.”

Juan J. Vaca, a psychology professor at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., and one of the three men to whom the letter was addressed, told CNS Jan. 6 that the men told her they do want to pursue it although “my personal feeling at this point is that I’ve lost all trust in Vatican officials.”

“Of course we will pursue it, but I don’t expect anything to be done,” he said in a phone interview. Vaca was once a Legionary priest and head of its North American territory.

Father Maciel, who is now 84, founded the Legion of Christ, also called the Legionaries of Christ, in 1941, when he was still a seminarian. The order now has about 600 priests and 2,500 seminarians worldwide, including more than 75 priests in the United States and a seminary and novitiate in Connecticut.

The Legion’s North American territory was recently divided into two. Atlanta is headquarters for a new territory covering central and western Canada, U.S. regions outside the Northeast and Middle Atlantic, and Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines.

Father Maciel received public congratulations from Pope John Paul II Nov. 30 at the end of a week of Legion celebrations in Rome marking the 60th anniversary of the Mexican-born priest’s ordination.

The pope praised Father Maciel’s “intense, generous and fruitful priestly ministry” and said that ministry has been “full of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.”

During the celebrations the pope also entrusted the Legionaries with administration of the Notre Dame Center, a complex with a conference center, 150 guest rooms and other facilities that serves as the Vatican’s main pilgrimage and cultural institution in Jerusalem. The pope also formally approved the statutes of Regnum Christi, a lay movement affiliated with the Legionaries.

Nine former Legionaries, one of whom is now dead, have publicly accused Father Maciel of sexually abusing them when they were teenage seminarians in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. Father Maciel has consistently denied ever engaging in any such activity.

After earlier complaints brought no response from the Vatican, in 1998 the eight accusers who were still alive drew up a formal complaint seeking a canonical case against Father Maciel.

The time limit for bringing charges of sexual abuse of a minor by a cleric had run out under the church’s statute of limitations, so his accusers sought to have him tried for giving absolution to an accomplice in a sexual sin.

Vaca says that when he was being abused in his seminary days he once told Father Maciel that he needed to go to confession about those incidents. Vaca says Father Maciel tried to dissuade him, but when he was insistent the priest said, “Here, I will give you absolution,” and made a sign of the cross over him.

Jose de Jesus Barba Martin, a professor of Latin American studies at Instituto Tecnological Autonomio de Mexico in Mexico City, and Arturo Jurado, a professor at the U.S. Defense Languages School in Monterrey, Calif., were the other two recipients of Wegan’s letter. Vaca told CNS that both of them also say Father Maciel gave them absolution when they expressed moral qualms about their role in sexual acts with the priest.

Church law — both in the 1917 Code of Canon Law in effect at the time of the alleged incidents and in the new code enacted in 1983 — says that such an absolution is invalid unless the penitent is in danger of death. In both codes the law says that any priest who attempts to absolve an accomplice in sexual sin incurs an automatic excommunication that only the Holy See can lift.

According to the men who filed the canonical complaint in 1998, the case had lain dormant from late1999 until Msgr. Scicluna’s recent phone call to Wegan.

Since 1999, however, the sexual abuse crisis in the United States has sparked significant changes in the Vatican’s approach to cases of priests accused of sexually abusing minors. In November 2002 Pope John Paul gave the doctrinal congregation — which has exclusive jurisdiction over all such cases worldwide — the ability to waive the statute of limitations for that crime on a case-by-case basis.

When contacted by the CNS Rome Bureau, Msgr. Scicluna declined to say whether the statute of limitations might be waived, allowing the complaint against Father Maciel to be amended to include the allegations of sexual abuse as well. “We do not offer comments on any individual cases,” he said.

Wegan also declined to comment. “I cannot talk about this. I cannot talk to a journalist,” she said.

Dunlap said that when Father Maciel was accused of improprieties in the mid-1950s, the Vatican cleared him of all accusations. “Father Maciel and the Legionaries were thoroughly investigated by the Holy See from 1956 to 1959 regarding many accusations and nothing wrong was ever found,” he said. “The Holy See can always review the records on file, the accusations and proofs of innocence.”

The issues the Vatican investigated in the 1950s did not include allegations of sexual abuse of seminarians.

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Contributing to this story was Cindy Wooden in Rome.