Pope Francis addresses the Fr. Marcial Maciel, Legion of Christ Founder, scandal for the first time
Improved translation from the original Spanish
Pope Francis speaks for first time about the Marcial Maciel scandal
ROME, 14 Mar 15 / 3:17 a.m. ( CNA ) .
In his interview with Televisa Mexico’s Valentina Alazraki , Pope Francis spoke for the first time in his pontificate about the scandal of Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, whom he considers “a very sick person” and he recalled how both St John Paul I and his predecessor, Benedict XVI behaved correctly by investigating the case.
When asked about whether he knew Maciel or heard about a cover-up in the case, the Holy Father stated “I never had contact with the Legionaries of Christ. Because they were not in Buenos Aires and the first parish was given (to the) by my predecessor, the parish of Santa María de Betania; the parish had been left (vacant) by the previous religious, the Picpus (Congregation of the Sacred Hearts). There were three of them (Legionaries); there were three LC religious in Buenos Aires; in other words, I never met them. I heard about them.”
“When I came (to Rome) to take, not the course, not the course for new bishops but the Ecclesial Movements Encounter, I stayed with, in other words the course was held at their building, a university, no? This was the other contact I had with them. In other words, I never got to know them,” he stated.
Francis recalled that “when I heard about the big scandal (uses popular Spanish: “el escandalazo”) it hurt me a lot. I was shocked.”
“How could this person go that far?
Evidently, he was a very sick person because besides all the abuses I think there were two or three women mixed up in it, children, with one or the other of them, I don’t know, like there was something going on there, and a lot of money. It all goes back to the same; that corruption begins with deep pockets. Right? But I believe it has to do with a sick person. A very sick person.”
The pope indicated that when the Vatican “became aware of it, it began to act firmly.”
“Then Cardinal Ratzinger took up the case and he kept working on it –Pope St John Paul II gave him the green light; and when he (Ratzinger) became pope he took action because the process was ripe.”
“But I want to make it very clear that then Cardinal Ratzinger and Pope St John Paul II were aware and they decided: Let’s go ahead. One in the investigation; the other in giving the green light.”
Responding to the concern about if “there was cover-up” Francis indicated that one can presume there was, although in all justice you are presumed innocent. But it would be unusual if there were not, if he did not have some kind of “godfather” around, half duped, half suspecting who would not know. Well, I have not researched that.”
The Pope went on to clarify that “the (Sex Abuse) Commission is not for the abuses but for the protection of minors; in other words, to prevent it. Right? The problem of child abuse is serious; most abuses occur in the family and neighborhood environments.
I don’t want to give numbers so as not to make mistakes. Just one priest who abuses a minor is enough to shake the whole Church structure to confront the problem. Why? Because the priest has an obligation to educate this boy, this girl, in holiness, in the encounter with Jesus. And what he does is destroy the encounter with Jesus.”
The pope underscored that “we have to listen to the abused. I listened for a whole day to two Irish, two English and two Germans. Their interior destruction…I mean they (the abusers) are cannibals. It’s as if they devoured the children. They destroy them, right? Even if it were just one priest it would be enough to fill us full of shame and make us do what needs to be done.”
The pope stressed that “we have to keep going ahead and not turn back. I mean, to destroy a creature is horrible, just horrible.”
“And that is why I am so grateful both to Pope Benedict who had the strength to state it publicly and to Pope St. John Paul II who had the courage to give the green light to the case of the Legionaries,” he reiterated.
You can read the full interview in its original Spanish at the following link: https://www.aciprensa.com/noticias/nueva-entrevista-el-papa-francisco-explica-como-fue-su-eleccion-hace-dos-anos-82104/