Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Statement by Phil Saviano of Boston Massachusetts USA, SNAP webmaster
About Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legionaires of Christ
We in SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, believe that the allegations against Fr. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaires of Christ, are the most longstanding and well-documented abuse allegations against a priest still in good standing that we have ever seen.
Maciel may be the only predator priest who is subject of a book devoted largely to him. It’s called VOWS OF SILENCE, by US journalists Jason Berry and Gerald Renner. (ISBN:0-7432-4441-9)
The evidence against Maciel is overwhelming. The response by the Vatican has been anything but. It has been, in fact, a betrayal of the most basic standard of human rights within the Catholic Church.
It is very significant, and disturbing, that for nearly 30 years, Maciel’s victims were ignored by the Vatican. Using church channels and complying with church policies, they repeatedly reported their abuse in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. They met a wall of silence.
A few facts about these brave men. SNAP leaders have met face-to-face with several of them.
These are credible men with reputable careers. One, Felix Alarcon, is a retired priest now living in Spain.
These men have never sought financial compensation from Maciel, the Legionaires, or the church.
They are represented by a credible Vatican canon lawyer, Martha Wegan.
They have been deemed credible by distinguished journalists, two of whom spent years researching Maciel and the charges against him.
Following church law, they filed their charges with the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by Cardinal Ratzinger. The case was accepted, and later quietly shelved. Three months ago, the men were notified that Cardinal Ratzinger’s office is re-opening the case.
These men want what all survivors and good Catholics want – moral justice.
While their quest has largely been ignored by the Vatican, Maciel’s victims have received a different response from the Legionaires of Christ. The order has waged a shameful disinformation campaign against these brave men, and against journalists who have exposed Maciel.
Yet these men have not been deterred. Their diligence and courage has finally exposed Maciel. They have proven what Martin Luther King said, that “No lie lives forever.”
For decades, these men gave no interviews and sought no public attention.
Now, as the secret investigation of that office proceeds, they have accepted a period of silence.
We admire their courage and their persistence, and speak now, as best we can, on their behalf.
We call on the new pope – whoever he may be – to remove Maciel from the priesthood and to affirm the integrity of those who were so severely, repeatedly, and needlessly hurt by him.
We also call on the new pope to launch an independent pastoral outreach effort to others who may have been victimized by Maciel but who remained trapped in secrecy and shame even today.
(SNAP is the USA’s largest support group for people victimized by clergy.)
For more information:
Bill Gately of Boston Massachusetts USA, SNAP N. E. Coordinator 508 524 5179
Barbara Dorris of St. Louis Missouri USA, SNAP outreach director 39 334 180 7425
Phil Saviano of Boston Massachusetts USA, SNAP webmaster
(All are staying at the Grand Hotel Tiberio at Via Lattanzio 51)
In the US:
David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP national director (314) 566 9790 cell
Barbara Blaine of Chicago Il. USA, SNAP Founder and President (312) 399 4747 cell
Mark Serrano of Washington DC, SNAP national board member (571) 223 0042 work
Peter Isely of Milwaukee, SNAP national board member (414) 429 7259 cell