Cardinal Jorge Medina discusses the situation of the Legionaries of Christ Founder
La Tercera, May 25, 2006
However, he adds that this “is not meant to discredit the commendable congregation”. The measure that the Vatican took against Marcial Maciel (86), the founder of the Legionaries of Christ accused of sexual abuses by ex- seminarians, which invited him to resign from public ministry and to retire to a life of prayer and penance, has not left Cardinal Jorge Medina indifferent. From Rome, the prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship explained to La Tercera that he has a “very good relationship with the legionary fathers” and says that “the day before yesterday (last Monday) I sent a letter to the superior general, Father Alvaro Corcuera, and, later, I called him on the phone, to express my concern and my support for him, because I understand that for them
this is a painful moment.”
Medina is aware of the repercussion that the decision to remove Maciel from public life has on the Church. “There are many people who are worried and hurt”, he says, but he emphasizes that “there is no danger of revolt”, because the resolutions of the Pope are obeyed and respected. Going beyond discussions, the Chilean Cardinal – who has a long career in the Holy See, explains the sense of the measure taken by Benedict XVI. “I believe that it is a decision of the Holy Father that he must have taken after taking many precedents into account. I know that he is an extremely sensitive person in his judgments who does not act in haste, so that if he took action in this way, it means that he had very serious reasons”. He emphasizes that “this measure does not mean to discredit in any way the commendable congregation of the Legionaries of Christ. The distressing situation of the Legionariesâ€™ Founder is one thing, but that does not in any way signify mistrust of the congregation”.
Regarding the statements of Fr. John OÂ´Reilly, spokesman for the Legion in Chile, who affirmed he was absolutely “convinced” of Macielâ€™s “absolute innocence”, Cardinal Medina is concise: “I offer no comment in relation to Fr. OÂ´Reilly”. The prelate goes on to describe the decision against Maciel as “an administrative, prudential and pastoral measure”, because from the point of view of Canon Law a process was not opened against the religious due to his age and health. In his opinion, “to show no mercy towards an aging person would not be in accordance with Christian charity”. Nevertheless, he insists: “the Pope would never have made a decision of this type without fairly substantial precedents”. Medina invites the followers of the Legionaries in Chile to adopt “an attitude of faith”.
“It is necessary to trust the Pope and to see that if he made a decision of this type, it is because in his conscience and before God he believed it was the best solution he could give to a public and consistent problem”, he adds. And he emphasizes: “when there is a serious deed that has good factual substance, well, measures must be taken, because nothing should prevent authority from being exercised”.