Juan Vaca is a former president of the Legionaries in the United States from 1971 until he left in 1976 and is currently an adjunct psychology and sociology professor at Mercy College in New York. He and other former Legionaries who claimed to have been sexually abused by the founder of the Legionaries of Christ had testified in an AOL News article in March 14, 2010 that he was molested by Legion founder Father Marcial Maciel for 10 years beginning when he was just 12 years old.
When he departed from the Legion in 1976, he wrote a letter in Spanish to the Legion founder Father Marcial Maciel, accusing him of sexually abusing twenty Legionary seminarians.
Juan Vaca has recently written a letter to Pope Benedict XVI while the Pope was visiting Mexico. He has courageously fought for justice for years after he parted ways with the Legion. His story was told in Vows of Silence, written by Jason Berry and Gerald Renner and he was one of a group of Maciel’s victims who filed a canon law case in 1998. According to Jason Berry, in 1994 the Legion had placed a papal letter in Mexican daily papers that had referred to Father Maciel as “an efficacious guide to youth”.
When Pope Benedict XVI recently visited Mexico and Cuba, he met a small group of victims of Mexico’s raging drug violence on Saturday, March 24. However, unlike other papal visits by Benedict XVI, the pope did not meet with sexual abuse victims. The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, ruled out any papal meeting with Maciel’s victims, saying Mexican bishops hadn’t requested it.
Following is a an English translation of Juan Vaca’s recent March 25 letter to Pope Benedict XVI.
Juan J. Vaca
217 Hawkins Lane
Lake Ronkonkoma, NY 11179
March 25, 2012
To Pope Benedict XVI
From the moment your intention to visit Mexico became public I thought and hoped that the usual steps would be taken so that the victim-survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy would be included in the Your Holiness? agenda. We, too, are sons of this same Mexico which has welcomed you with open arms and demonstrated its great love and esteem towards your Holiness.
My hope disappeared when, after arriving on Mexican soil, the organizing committee did nothing to facilitate the victim-survivors being awarded the same closeness, understanding and healing you showed to other victims in each one of the countries you visited.
Your Holiness, why have the Mexican victims been ignored?
The serious wounds caused by the horrendous abuses and abominable crimes committed by Marcial Maciel are still open and smarting; the same man that you personally knew and later proclaimed was “a false prophet, a man without scruples, who lived a life totally lacking any moral or religious values.”
I waited in vain that at least moved by your geographical proximity to the place where Marcial Maciel was born and buried (only one hundred and forty miles from the city of León), Your Holiness might approach the victims which that criminal person and unholy priest had left cruelly wounded, with their youth blighted and their lives destroyed.
On several occasions I begged Your Apostolic Nuncio, Christophe Pierre, to include us victims in the pope’s schedule, even in a private way, during the visit to Mexico. My petition was ignored and they have not had the common courtesy to honor it with a reply.
On Cubilete Mountain Your Holiness paid homage to the heroic memory of those who laid down their lives in defense of the faith and their religious freedom in Mexico, the Cristeros – I mention in passing with filial pride that my father was one of them. By contrast, not a word was said about us, victim- survivors of another kind of atrocities. Your Holiness, why have you not shown at least one small gesture of paternal care toward these victims who were so deeply abused by that criminal Mexican priest, Marcial Maciel, that most unworthy member of the clergy who has brought shame on the Mexican Nation and seriously jeopardized the very credibility of the Catholic Church?
Why was it that in Mexico, Holy Father, you omitted what you had so nobly done in Germany, Great Britain, Malta, and Australia where you stated you “wanted to approach these victims”? How was it that now in Mexico you have not wanted to “approach the victims”, survivors of that ignominious Mexican priest, Marcial Maciel? Why not in Mexico?
Yours Most Respectfully,
Juan J. Vaca (victim-survivor)