April 23, 2005
Some coverage of our new Holy Father, Benedict XVI, has focused on his response as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) to the sexual abuse crisis in the Church. In this context several media outlets have again mentioned demonstrably false allegations against Father Marcial Maciel, LC, founder of the Legionaries of Christ. The coverage often neglects to quote Father Maciel’s statements of innocence and the evidence that supports him. Therefore the Legionaries of Christ wish to repeat what has already been declared in several public statements in the past:
From the first moment these allegations of abuse surfaced -through the media- in 1996, decades after any alleged abuse would have happened, Father Maciel has proclaimed his innocence: “Before God and with total clarity of conscience I can categorically state that the accusations brought against me are false. I never engaged in the sort of repulsive behavior these men accuse me of, and nothing could be further from my way of dealing with others, as is evident to any of the thousands of Legionaries who know me” (Statement, April 22, 2002).
The testimony of others and the historical record all point to his innocence. One of the original accusers swiftly recanted, admitting the allegations were fabricated to make Father Maciel look bad. Four other former Legionaries have sworn they were approached to join in the lies but refused.
Recent media reports suggest the CDF is proceeding with an investigation of Father Maciel. Neither he nor the Legionaries of Christ has been contacted about any such past or present inquiry.
It should be mentioned that the Vatican conducted an intense investigation of Father Maciel and the Legion from October 1956 to February 1959. During that period, Father Maciel was not allowed to function as general director. Vatican-appointed investigators interviewed members personally and in depth; the Legionaries were invited to raise their concerns or allegations. The investigators found Father Maciel not only innocent but exemplary; they concluded the Legion held great promise for the Church. In 1996, one of these investigators, Bishop Polidoro Van Vlierberghe stated: “I am surprised that more than forty years later, Father Maciel is accused of sexual abuse by some of the same individuals who did not hesitate to accuse him in the 1950s of so many other faults and grave crimes that were proven totally false. We, the Apostolic Visitators, gave them every opportunity to level any accusation they had, but not once was this type of offense mentioned” (Letter, December 12, 1996)
Father Maciel and with him the Legionaries of Christ keep no ill will against those who make these allegations. Rather, we offer our prayers for them and express once again our total commitment at the service of the Church, the Holy Father and all men and women.
Further documentation establishing Father Maciel’s innocence is online at http://www.lcfacts.com.
For general information on the Legionaries of Christ and Father Marcial Maciel visit http://www.legionofchrist.org.