A New Low

In recent news releases from the mainstream media sickening new allegations have been made by one man who has a credible claim to be Father Maciel’s son that he and his brother were abused by their father from a very early age. For details of this horrific story read these articles:

Time / CNN

New York Times

Le Monde


Editor’s note:
It is interesting to note in the Time article that even before the new revelations of incest, Elio Masferrer, an expert on the Catholic Church in Latin America believes that the Catholic Church in Mexico is hemorrhaging congregants to Protestant Evangelical sects and has seen its clout diminish in areas like the capital, Mexico City. Do thegood works of the Legion outweigh the bad?

Archdiocese Of Miami Bans Legionaries Of Christ

Prohibition Effective Immediately
MIAMI, Florida, OCT. 29, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Archbishop John Favalora of Miami has officially prohibited members of the Legionaries of Christ from exercising any ministry in the archdiocese, effective immediately.

Msgr. Michael Souckar, the archdiocesan chancellor, communicated the ban today in a letter addressed to all priests of the archdiocese. ZENIT confirmed the veracity of the letter with the office of the chancellor.

Both Msgr. Souckar and Legionary of Christ spokesman Jim Fair were unavailable for comment.

The letter said that Archbishop Favalora made the decision based on alleged abuses of earlier permissions given to the Legionaries that restricted their work to attending to the needs of members of the Regnum Christi movement, a lay apostolic association connected to the Legionaries.

“In the past,” it explained, “their priests were given individual approval by the vicar general each time they wished to come to the Archdiocese of Miami, but their ministry was restricted to their own members. Because the Legionaries of Christ have not abided by these restrictions, Archbishop Favalora has barred them from any ministry in the Archdiocese of Miami.”

The letter furthermore stated that the Regnum Christi movement is not permitted to work in schools or parishes in the archdiocese.

On the Web site of the archdiocese, a notice appears that reiterates the ban.

The Legionaries are currently undergoing a worldwide apostolic visitation under the direction of the Holy See.

On the Net: Full text:

Laying Bare The Legion

By Jason Berry
First published in The Tablet, May 9, 2009

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone’s recent announcement to the Legionaries of Christ that they are the subject of a “visitation” – a gentle term for investigation – left many members of the ultraconservative religious order more relieved than worried. This visitation by bishops from America, Italy and Mexico will determine how the order, shocked by scandals regarding its founder Marcial Maciel’s sexual misdemeanours, should be reformed, and whether it should exist under its present name and leadership.

In early February, Fr Álvaro Corcuera, the order’s director general, disclosed to its members that their founder, Fr Marcial Maciel Degollado, who died in 2008 at 87, had fathered a daughter, whom the Rome-based newspaper L’Espresso reported was now in her early twenties and living in Spain.

Corcuera’s revelation set off depth charges among the Legion’s 800 priests, 2,500 seminarians, and the 70,000 members of the order’s lay affiliate, Regnum Christi, all of whom had long been taught that Maciel wa a living saint. Under the Legion’s constitution laid down by Maciel, each member took a secret vow never to speak ill of the founder and to report to superiors anyone critical of Maciel or any of the Legionaries.

In this way, the secret vows, unique to the Legion, rewarded spying as an expression of faith. Pope Benedict XVI abolished them in 2006, the same year that the Vatican had removed Maciel from active service, inviting him to a life of penitence, following investigations into his sexual abuse of minors.

“A civil war is starting to emerge in the order,” says a former Legion priest, Fr James Farfaglia, a pastor in Corpus Christi, Texas, with friends still in the order. “Maciel set up a Mexican oligarchy to run the Legion. The people around Maciel all those years had to know [about the daughter] … Many Americans in the Legion are outraged about the deceit.”

Maciel founded the Legion in 1941 in his native Mexico as it was emerging from the Cristero revolt, an uprising of Catholics in the 1920s and 1930s against the anti-Catholicism of the government and its anticlerical constitution. Described in Graham Greene’s novel The Power and the Glory, this violent era was the youthful backdrop that shaped Maciel’s militant spirituality. He then moulded the Legion to evangelise the Church to a more conservative form of Catholicism in the wake of Vatican II.

Maciel’s appeal to wealthy conservatives made him the most successful fundraiser of the modern Church. Pope John Paul II was a pivotal figure in the Legion’s video tapes and fundraising campaigns, Maciel ever at his side. The order has a $650-million (some £435m) annual budget with a central headquarters in Rome, American headquarters in Cheshire, Connecticut, and a Latin American office in Mexico City. Maciel created a far-flung network of seminaries, universities and prep schools.

When he died on 31 January 2008, the Legion website announced, with not a little hubris, that he had gone to heaven. Yet he was buried in a family crypt in his home town of Cotija, Mexico, a world away from the Our Lady of Guadalupe basilica he built in Rome in the 1950s. His tomb there was intended as a shrine, while the Legion promoted him for sainthood. Maciel told associates at a 1992 canonisation in Rome to “wait 30 years” after his death before launching the campaign.

Religious orders draw their spirituality from their founders, and their standing in the Church from the sainthood of those founders. Imagine the Jesuits without Ignatius Loyola or the Franciscans without Francis of Assisi. In that regard, Pope John Paul II, who championed the sainthood of Opus Dei founder Josemaría Escrivá, was clearly in Maciel’s corner. But in Maciel’s twilight years, the carefully constructed story of his heroic life began to come apart.

In 1997, Gerald Renner and I reported in the Connecticut newspaper, the Hartford Courant, that Maciel had sexually abused nine young seminarians during the 1950s and 1960s in Rome. The Vatican refused any comment. Maciel, though claiming his innocence, refused to be interviewed. The Legion launched a publicity campaign denouncing the accusers of a conspiracy to harm Maciel. The next year, a group of men led by José Barba, a professor of Latin American studies with a Harvard doctorate who teaches in Mexico City, filed canonical accusations with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then headed by prefect Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, seeking Maciel’s excommunication. John Paul resisted any action. In late 2004, as the Pope’s health deteriorated, Cardinal Ratzinger ordered an investigation by Mgr Charles Scicluna, a canon lawyer on his staff.

Maciel at that point stepped down as director general, handing control to Fr Corcuera. Two other Mexican priests continue to assist him in the daily operations – Fr Luis Garza and Fr Evarista Sada, both from wealthy families in Monterrey, Mexico’s industrial centre where Maciel gained crucial financial support early in his career.

Mgr Scicluna interviewed dozens of witnesses and was returning to Rome from Mexico City in 2005 just as Cardinal Ratzinger was elected pope. In May 2006 a Vatican communiqué removed Maciel from active ministry to a “a life of prayer and penitence”. The communiqué made no reference to Maciel’s victims, and pointedly praised the Legion and Regnum Christi. That same day, an unnamed Vatican source told the Kansas City-based National Catholic Reporter that Maciel had “more than 20 but less than 100” sexual victims. The Legion then issued its own statement, comparing Maciel to Jesus for refusing to answer his accusers and stating that he bore his cross with “tranquillity of conscience”.

The Legion strategy of portraying Maciel as wrongly accused, a suffering future saint, was consistent with the by-laws that he had dictated – that the founder must above all be defended. This blind obedience that he demanded from the Legionaries also permeated the constitution of Regnum Christi, where the highest lay members live together as consecrated celibates, under such articles as:

“103. Recruitment happens in stages, going successfully from kindness to friendship, from friendship to confidence, from confidence to conviction, from conviction to submission.”

“494. No one shall visit outsiders in their homes, deal with them frequently or speak with them by telephone without justifiable reasons.”

“509. The centre’s Director or Manager shall review all correspondence from members … and release that which he or she judges to be opportune.”

“514.1 Live your consecration with a sense of removal as it relates to dealings with your family and try to fundamentally channel this relationship into conquering them for Christ.”

For those embarking on the Vatican visitation – Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, Colorado; Bishop Ricardo Watty Urquidi of Tepic, Mexico; and Italian Bishop Giuseppe Versaldi of Alessandria – a major issue will be how to guide priests and seminarians subjected to Maciel’s psychological coercion into a clerical culture quite different from what they have known.

Many Legionaries wrote long, confessional letters to Maciel. Who has the letters? Then there are the lay members. The bishops must advise Rome on how to “reground” Regnum Christi members, who are pivotal to the fundraising. Nothing quite like this has been undertaken in the modern Church but it is difficult to imagine what the Vatican gains by maintaining a movement whose founder was a paedophile and narcissistic sociopath.

There will be plenty of people watching to see what Rome does. Although Maciel’s personality won admiring support from some families, it caused bitter divisions in many others, who today claim their children or siblings were taken by “The Movement”, as Regnum Christi is called, or by the Legion. These cultlike conflicts have only begun to surface.

Consider the case of Christopher Kunze, a graduate in 1984 from the Milwaukee-based Jesuit Marquette University, who became a Legion priest and eventually an undersecretary at the Congregation for the Clergy in 1998. He left in 2001 after learning on his work computer that Maciel was accused of wrong-doing. Kunze returned to America and eventually married. But his sister, Elizabeth, who joined Regnum Christi in 1994, stayed on, working at Regnum Christi schools in Europe, and defending Maciel as a saint, even after the 2006 Vatican order. Their mother, Mary Kunze, a bioethicist, told me for a film documentary: “I believe Elizabeth has been brainwashed.”

Is the Legion a cult? Baltimore Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, after banning the Legion from his area, told his archdiocesan paper, The Catholic Review: “From the first moment a person joins the Legion, efforts seem to be made to programme each one and to gain full control of his behaviour, of all information he receives, of his thinking and emotions.” Currently the leadership seems unable to disassociate itself from Maciel and his wrongdoing. This may be because its members might have known about his double life. After all, senior members, such as Maciel’s handpicked successor, knew Maciel’s schedule, how he travelled, and the financial disbursements he ordered. Corcuera had several meetings with Pope Benedict, well publicised on the Legion’s website, to assure followers that all was well before the jolting news about the founder’s child.

Until the results of the Vatican’s visitation, it seems that 800 priests and 70,000 lay people will remain caught up in a religious movement that promotes the charism of a child abuser and hypocrite.

Fr. Thomas Berg Leaves the Legion of Christ

By Catholic News Agency

Original Artcile Link: Click here
New York City, N.Y., May 7, 2009 / 06:06 am (CNA).- Fr. Thomas Berg, Executive Director of the New York-based Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person, announced today that he will be leaving the Legion of Christ to join the Archdiocese of New York and will continue his ministry as the head of the institute.

Fr. Berg released a brief statement explaining his decision and his motivations for the change:

“After nearly 23 years of life as a Legionary of Christ, I have discerned that it is time for me to continue following Christ in the diocesan priesthood. Although the recent revelations about the Legion’s founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel, were profoundly disturbing, my decision has actually been in the making for nearly three years.

Like so many, I have personally experienced again and again the vast amount of good which God has accomplished through Legionary priests and the congregation’s works of apostolate over the past six decades of its existence. I leave with a heart grateful to Christ who I know accepted and blessed the oblation of my years of religious consecration in the Legion.

In my opinion, the serious issues within the congregation will require its thorough reformation if not a complete re-foundation. I am hopeful that the upcoming Apostolic Visitation of the Legion will be a first step toward a new beginning for the Legionaries and members of Regnum Christi. I trust that God in his providence will lead them to holiness and enable them to do great things for Christ and his Church. For my part, I remain their friend and brother in the Lord.

My work as executive director of the Westchester Institute will continue under the direction of a new Board and no longer under the Legion’s sponsorship. By this means and through a very active ministry in the Archdiocese of New York, under our new Archbishop Timothy Dolan, I look forward to continuing to live my total consecration to Christ in his priesthood.

My hope is that this brief statement would preclude unnecessary and unwarranted speculation about the reasons for my decision. Having released it to the press, I do not plan to make any further comment on the matter at this time.”

Follieri, Sodano, and the Legion of Christ

From http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/06/24/follieri.arrested.ap/
updated 10:23 p.m. EDT, Tue June 24, 2008

Hathaway's ex arrested on fraud charges

Prosecutors: Raffaello Follieri posed as Vatican representative to fleece investors

They allege that Follieri, 29, spent investor's money on lavish things

FBI: Follieri said Vatican had formally appointed him to manage its financial affairs

Follieri recently dated actress Anne Hathaway

NEW YORK (AP) -- An Italian businessman who once dated actress Anne Hathaway was arrested Tuesday on charges he posed as a representative of the Vatican to fleece wealthy investors in a real estate company that sought to buy and redevelop Roman Catholic Church property.

Raffaello Follieri is accused of fleecing wealthy investors and spending their money improperly.

Bail was set at $21 million for Raffaello Follieri. Federal prosecutors said they have overwhelming evidence that he improperly spent up to $6 million from investors, much of it on a lavish lifestyle, including privately chartered jet travel with his girlfriend and others, expensive meals and clothing and a posh Manhattan apartment.

The girlfriend was not identified but it has been widely reported that Hathaway, the star of films including Get Smart, The Devil Wears Prada and The Princess Diaries, had until recently dated Follieri, 29.

An angry Follieri repeatedly interrupted his lawyer at a court appearance to tell her what to say. He shook his head at times and, as a prosecutor accused him of owing various debts, called out: We paid that.

After his court appearance, Follieri, who had been fighting a sinus infection, had some sort of attack and was taken to a hospital, said his publicist, Melanie Bonvicino. She said she did not have further information on his condition.

Prosecutor Reed Michael Brodsky said Follieri, of Foggia, Italy, boasted of tight Vatican connections to entice investors to give millions of dollars so he could live the lifestyle of a multimillionaire. He said Follieri had duped one investor as recently as last month.

In short, your honor, he is a con man, and he was able to defraud a lot of people out of a lot of money over a long period of time,

Brodsky told Magistrate Judge Henry B. Pitman. The evidence in this case is overwhelming because he left a trail of evidence.

Brodsky had asked Pitman to deny bail, saying Follieri had the money, the connections and the incentive to flee charges that could send him to prison for up to nine years if he is convicted. He said Follieri lost between $2.5 million and $6 million of investor money.

Pitman said Follieri must secure bail with $16 million in cash or property and must endure home detention, except for legal meetings, medical treatment or religious services.

The complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan alleges that Follieri duped a partner into investing millions of dollars in a real estate scheme to buy properties at bargain prices from the Catholic church in the United States and redevelop them.

The partner, a private equity firm in California, was not identified in court papers. However, a division of supermarket billionaire Ron Burkle's Yucaipa Cos. has settled lawsuits accusing Follieri of misappropriating more than $1 million to support a fancy lifestyle.

Follieri was charged with a dozen counts of wire fraud conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering.

His lawyer, Flora Edwards, told The Associated Press, We're going to move forward and hope for a speedy resolution to this matter.

Outside court, she called the bail package one of the stiffest she had seen.

Edwards told the judge her client was no threat to flee just because he had access to millions of dollars and his family is in Italy. She noted that his mother was being treated at a hospital in Manhattan.

According to the FBI, Follieri claimed the Vatican had formally appointed him to manage its financial affairs and that he had met with the pope in person in Rome.

He is accused of keeping various ceremonial robes, including the robes of senior clergymen, in his Manhattan office, and of hiring two monsignors to accompany him during his business dealings.

Once, according to the complaint, he even asked a monsignor to change out of his robes and put on the robe of a more senior clergyman to create the false impression that Follieri had close ties to the Vatican.

The monsignors are not accused of any crimes. Messages for comment left for Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Vatican's U.S. ambassador, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, were not immediately returned Tuesday.

Prosecutors allege that Follieri's scheme unraveled when the principal investor sought an audit of the partnership and demanded an explanation for expenditures unrelated to administrative overhead or business expenses.

Earlier this month, the New York attorney general's office said it was investigating a foundation operated by Follieri that vaccinates children in Third World countries.

The Follieri Foundation has not filed U.S. tax disclosure forms required from charities, according to a review of records by the AP.

Hathaway's publicist, Stephen Huvane, has previously stressed that she is not part of any probes and is no longer a board member of the Follieri Foundation.

And from Catholic World News:

one born every minute

Posted by: Diogenes - Jul. 16, 2008 11:26 AM ET USA

Just before he was indicted, Raffaello Follieri-- who is either a real-estate entrepreneur or a con artist, depending upon your perspective-- arranged to buy a home from Bishop Joseph Galante of Camden, New Jersey. It was the bishop's own property, so he was free to dispose of it as he saw fit. There seems to be nothing improper about the transaction. Still you might wonder why the high-flying Follieri, who was enticing billionaire partners into his big development schemes, would bother purchasing an ordinary townhouse in New Jersey.

Maybe we can solve that mystery. Follieri was interested in doing business with American bishops. That's why he and a partner, Andrea Sodano (remember that name) set up hospitality suites in the hotels where the US bishops held their annual meetings. The big-money business plan for the Follieri Group was to buy up all the church properties that went on the market when parishes closed, develop those properties, and sell them at a profit. Obviously the scheme would work only if Follieri could buy the properties at attractive prices, and that's why he was courting the bishops' favor.

Most American chancery officials evidently recognized the Follieri scheme for what it was. Despite aggressive pursuit of deals in many different dioceses, the playboy financier was only able to purchase a few church properties before his partners began asking questions about where their money had gone, and learning that much of it had apparently gone to underwrite Follieri's jet-set lifestyle. That was the beginning of the end for the Follieri Group's adventure in American real estate.

Why did Follieri think he might get special treatment from American dioceses? That's where his partner, Andrea Sodano, comes into the story. Sodano is an engineer, whose role theoretically was to help guide the reconstruction efforts after properties had been purchased. You might wonder why an engineering consultant was chosen to help Follieri chat up the US bishops. But you'd probably stop wondering when you learned that Andrea Sodano's uncle, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, was at the time the Vatican Secretary of State.

Cardinal Sodano never commented on his nephew's business dealings, and other Vatican officials assured journalists that the Holy See had no special relationship with the Follieri Group. But that didn't stop Follieri from dropping hints about his ties to the Vatican-- and persuading some people, including the Clinton campaign.

And Bishop Galante, too, the New York Post reports:

Spokesman Andrew Walton said Galante initially met with Follieri at the encouragement of the Vatican and had no idea he was dealing with a con man until two months after he finalized the sale of his beach house.

Walton said the diocese got a phone call from an office of the Vatican through the bishop's office and we were asked to be open to dealing with the Follieri Group. We and other dioceses were encouraged to use Follieri where we could.

Interesting. Very interesting. If the bishop's spokesman is to be believed-- and we see no reason not to believe him-- then someone at the Vatican was placing phone calls in support of the Follieri scam. Wouldn't you like to know who it was?

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