Giving voice to Fr. Maciel’s Accusers before they die off (updated 9/16/2022)

 

                  The Best Kind of Witnesses are Dead Witnesses

would seem to be the Legion of Christ’s motto and method

They have left it to the last moment to attempt outreach and compensation to the victims. And only to the victims who will accept compensation on their terms. Those “bad” victims will not be rewarded for their “stubbornness” – or would that be “the strength of their convictions”?

Some of us got together several years ago in Mexico.

I am aware that the below is an extremely poor testimony to the victims, who spent their lives and money seeking truth and justice -and received very little in return!

Paul Lennon

These are some of the men, a few of whom victims, who fought for decades against Vatican and Legion of Christ Silence regarding the Founder’s disreputable life. González-Parga and Lennon were ordained priests in the Legion; the others left disillusioned in the 1960s as seminarians.

(From right)

Carlos de la Isla, from Mexico, one of the first junior seminarians, apostólicos, recruited by Maciel and who began his studies in Mexico City in the 1940s. Carlos and his two brothers joined the Legion as children. It is a fact that one of Carlos’ brothers was sexually abused by Maciel. The father traveled to Mexico City from the heartland to confront the founder. Maciel, as on many other occasions, found a way to deny, placate and slip away from trouble. From that moment on, someone in the Legion knew about his evil inclinations.  But the Great Catholic Houdini would always find a way out of any tight spot and come out smelling like a rose.

Arturo Jurado, early legionary, victim and witness, was one of those unfortunate seminarians who was manipulated by Maciel into finding drugs for his father beyond reproach in Spain and Rome. He left the Legion in the 1960s after being held in seclusion and silenced by Maciel for years, and made a good living for himself as Spanish language teacher and interpreter in California.  On discovering that he has much in common with José Barba,  he  joined forces with José Barba.  He spent years paying his way to Rome with José to  request Vatican  intervention regarding Maciel’s sexual abuse of his seminarians and many other irregularities.

José Barba-Martín, PhD Harvard in Philology, professor emeritus, ITAM, Mexico City  where he held the chair of Political and Social Institutions.  He of the prodigious memory,  spear-headed the accusers cause, aided by Jurado. Their decades-long saga, after meeting with denial, stone-walling and minimization, finally bore fruit in 2006 when Vatican and Pope Benedict accepted their accusations, made no apology to them, gave Maciel a slap on the wrist and ordered him to a life of Penance and Prayer;  to which unrepentant Maciel paid no attention, continuing to live with his paramour and daughter and traveling wherever he wanted by private plane.

(John) Paul Lennon,  believer, friend and supporter of Maciel’s victims; like Domínguez not a victim of sexual abuse. Joined the Legion of Christ in Dublin, Ireland, at the age of seventeen, considered Irish co-founder by Maciel, ordained to the priesthood in Rome, together with eleven others (among which Bishop Brian Farrell and Cardinal Fernando Vérgez), on the 25th anniversary of Fr. Maciel’s priestly ordination, 26th November 1969. Left Legion in 1984 -before he every heard of abuse-  and since then has been a critic of Maciel’s foundation. He was sued for his troubles by the Legion of Christ in the City of Alexandria, VA, USA in August  2007. One lawyer commented: “Mr. Lennon, you have made some very rich people very angry!”

Francisco González-Parga, known in the Legion as Padre Parga, passed away this year in Guadalajara, Mexico, mourned by his wife, Esther. Francisco was one of Maciel’s sexual abuse victims; an enslavement which began in puberty and lasted into his twenties. He was not one of the original group of accusers but came forward in 2005 when Vatican prosecutor, then Monsignor, Charles Scicluna carried out the first thorough Vatican investigation into Maciel’s sexual abuse of his seminarians in Mexico City. By this time Maciel was 85 and the victims in their sixties. Remember that Maciel founded the Legion in 1941, when he was a 21-year old untrained seminarian, and began sexually abusing the 10 and 11-year-olds under his “pastoral care.”

Maciel’s sexual preference was pubertal males. In some cases, if he found them especially attractive he would continue the relationship into the victims’ twenties. Each older victim believed he was the only object of Maciel’s attention… As Maciel “matured” he sexually abused boys who were not his seminarians, later seducing younger, vulnerable females. It would seem he never had an equal-to-equal relationship in his life. All his relationships were controlling, manipulative and exploitative. (See the author’s Breaking Bad article on this page)

(Seated)

Saul Barrales-Arellano, R.I.P., known to his companions as Brother Charity. An extremely kind and helpful person. The story goes that Saul would lay down at night outside Maciel’s bedroom in Rome, Via Aurelia 677, to prevent others from entering and being victimized. Because he once demonstrated a lack of unconditional support for Maciel, the Saint stopped his ordination as a priest, sending him instead into exile on the Canary Islands where he languished alone for months. He finally got help from his family in Mexico to fly home.  He was a headmaster at a Mexico City school and is survived by his dear Tere.

A Little addendum:

Don Alejandro Espinosa-Alcalá with Aura and Paul Lennon on one of our trips to Mexico. Alejandro is a very active original witness to Maciel’s sexual abuse , and has written about it in El Legionario (2006, edit. Grijalbo, Mexico) and El Ilusionista Marcial Maciel, of which I treasure his dedication. Like other survivors, Alejandro has lived in relative, and sometimes abject, poverty since leaving the Legion half a century ago. It seems that at the eleventh hour Fr. John Connor, Maciel’s successor, has been trying to save face by awarding  “Easter Eggs” of ten thousand dollars to the victims, assisting them in their old age, and/or paying for their funerals.

I had mistakenly pointed out Federico Domínguez in the photo. He is not in the photo, but everything that was said of him is true. At one point, Maciel sent him and some other seminarians to Dublin, Ireland, to study at the prestigious Maynooth College. After some time, Federico became disenchanted with the whole Legion project, left the seminary and married a lovely Irish girl, and “they lived happily ever after” in the USA.

Federico Domínguez, R.I.P., one of Maciel’s writers, circa 1955 he reported to Church authorities in Rome regarding some of Maciel’s questionable behaviors; thus provoking the first major Vatican investigation into the founder and his order, 1956-59; Maciel was exiled for two years, but with the help of allies in the Curia (Pizzardo & Co.), was able to return and consolidate his power and control. About this time Maciel conceived the Private Vows (see Berry & Renner’s Vows of Silence), one of which was the “snitching vow” whereby “Never to criticize the person or actions of the superior, and to inform on anyone who does so.” This vow was apparently abolished by the later Vatican investigation around 2010, the spirit may still prevail among die-hard Legion and Regnum Christi members.

Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church: The Unspeakable Scandals of the Legionaries of Christ

Upon discovering the Pandora Papers on October 3, the most passionate about the news of the Catholic Church were surprised to come across the name of the Legionaries of Christ. This holy family, involved in a vast financial package, is involved in one of the biggest scandals in the field. For several decades, multiple accusations of pedophile sexual assault have been brought against members of the Legion of Christ, made up of about 900 priests and present in Europe, America and Asia

Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church: The Unspeakable Scandals of the Legionaries of Christ

Vanity Fair   

October 6, 2021
Quoted in the Pandora Papers, the congregation of the Legion of Christ has been immersed in dark affairs for several decades. At the heart of one of the biggest scandals of the Catholic Church: Marcial Maciel, its founder, whose actions have been repeatedly pointed out.
A founder in turmoil

Their actions were covered up for a long time before the scandal really broke out in the 2000s, more precisely after the death of the founder of the congregation, Marcial Maciel, in 2008. The Mexican priest resigned in 2006 after several accusations of sexual assault committed between 1956 and 1997. The man had been implicated in 1948 and briefly suspended the time of the opening of an investigation, stopped by the death of Pius XII. After regaining his functions thanks to the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, all the allegations against him in Mexico were automatically relegated to the rank of slander.

Marcial Maciel.

Many years later, in 1998, eight members of the Legion of Christ denounced his actions in the 1950s and 1960s on victims between the ages of 11 and 16. After a vast investigation by Benedict XVI, the Holy See ordered in 2006 the withdrawal of Marcial Maciel who was asked to “lead a withdrawn existence in prayer and penance.” This existence turned out to be full of secrets, some details of which were revealed shortly after his death in 2008. The New York Times then explained in its columns how the founder of the Legion of Christ had led a double life in which he had several identities, managed an immense fortune in all opacity and raised his own daughter. “Poverty, obedience, chastity”. The vows pronounced by each Legionary of Christ before committing themselves apparently had no place in the life led by Marcial Maciel.

At least 175 minors abused

These revelations were truly publicly acknowledged in 2010. An investigation by the Legion of Christ concluded that Marcial Maciel had indeed committed “acts of sexual abuse of minor seminarians” and said he regretted not having believed the people who had testified before. The same year, the congregation underwent a profound overhaul as part of its trusteeship by the Vatican, determined to take the subject head on. Apart from Father Maciel, other priests have been incriminated in this case, such as the French episcopal vicar Pierre Dufour, sentenced to 15 years in prison for “rape and sexual assault” – who had admitted his actions on at least a dozen young adults for several years – and Henri Le Bras for acts committed in the late 1990s.

Le pape François a déclaré en 2019 qu’il comptait faire de la lutte contre les agressions sexuelles dans l’Église catholique l’une de ses priorités.

 VATICAN POOL – CORBIS

In 2019, a new report reported at least 175 minors who were sexually assaulted by priests of the same congregation from 1941 to 2019, at least 60 of whom were attributed to Marcial Maciel. If these acts are recognized, their instigators are still present in the ranks of the Legion of Christ. At least in part. We learned then, still in the same report, that 18 of the 33 religious accused of pedophilia were still in office, but had nevertheless been excluded from tasks related to minors. More importantly, half of the perpetrators were themselves victims of the same abuses. “In this sense, it is emblematic that 111 minors abused in the Congregation were victims of Father Maciel, one of his victims or a victim of his victims,” the report reads. That same year, Pope Francis made the fight against sexual assault in the Catholic Church one of his priorities.

The extent of the suffering inflicted by these clerics is revealed at the rate of the publication of new reports. The last one, dating from March 2021, revealed new figures and the identity of 27 priests. Among them, “two have died without trial, sixteen have been sanctioned, eight are currently in canonical trial and one has received a dispensation from the ministry without trial.”

More broadly, the Ciase (Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church) delivered a report on October 5 led by Jean-Marc Sauvé, former vice-president of the Council of State. His conclusion is alarming: in 70 years, there are 216,000 victims of sexual abuse by clerics and 3,000 predator priests.

Rampant Legion of Christ Pedophile, Jesús (Martínez) Penilla, went Undeterred for Decades

They tell me Fr. Penilla is currently living at the Legion of Christ house for retired priests in Cancun, Avenida Bonampak 91,  Quintana Roo, Mexico. Supposedly he is mentally ill. The Legion wants to protect him. He is another bomb, revealing their long history of cover-up regarding wide-spread sexual abuse in the ranks and among the faithful. Legion keeps him out of the public eye until he dies.

RAMPANT LEGION OF CHRIST PEDOPHILE, JESÚS MARTÍNEZ PENILLA, WENT UNDETERRED FOR DECADES

ReGAIN comments: I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart (Romans 9,2)

 

 

Photo of Fr. Jesús Martínez (paternal) Penilla (maternal surname); because Martínez is such a common name in Spanish, he is known in the Legion and in his pastoral work as “Padre Penilla’.

They tell me Fr. Penilla is currently living at the Legion of Christ house for retired priests in Cancun, Avenida Bonampak 91,  Quintana Roo, Mexico. Supposedly he is mentally ill. The Legion wants to protect him. He is another bomb, revealing their long history of cover-up regarding wide-spread sexual abuse in the ranks and among the faithful. Legion keeps him out of the public eye until he dies.

The last time Fr. Penilla was mentioned by the Legion of Christ was on the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination. The cover-up Legionary bishop of Cancun feted him on the occasion.  At that time, the Scourge of the Legion of Christ, Father Pablo Pérez G., R.I.P.,

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introduced a newpaper article with the words:

A principios de julio 2014, los legionarios de Maciel se ríen del Papa Francisco entonando un canto de albanza al sacerdote pederasta Jesús Martínez Penilla.

“In early July 2014, the Legionaries mocked Pope Francis singing the praises of pedophile priest, Jesús Martínez Penilla.”

Fr. Pablo Pérez, Scourge of the Legion of Christ, in Quintana Roo (Cancun, to you) called Penilla, the Pedophile of Isla Mujeres. Around the year 2014 Penilla was removed from Isla Mujeres and transferred to Cancun on the mainland.  Fr. Pérez was incensed and published the article: “In Praise of the Isla Mujeres Pedophile”

The transfer and continued cover-up seems to be a common strategy in the Legion of Christ, morphed into Regnum Christi Federation:

  • the abuser is immeditately sent away from the place he is abusing; to another country or continent;
  • the victims are placated, bribed or silenced,
  • there is no notification of local civil authorities, sometimes the Legion does not even inform Church authorities -only if necessary, “if convenient” .
  • there is no serious independent psychological care for the victims
  • there is no serious independent psychological care for the abuser
  • Cover-up is the best policy

I was in very bad shape myself when I left the Legion of Christ Mission in Quintana Roo -you think Cancun- in 1984. I had to lick my own wounds after confronting Maciel in his home town of Cotija, Michoacán, Mexico and sought refuge in the Washington DC diocese.

Years later I learned about the Maciel scandal of him abusing his own seminarians. José Barba reached out to me and asked me whether I believed the victims’ story which had hit the headlines in the USA, thanks to the Hartford Courant on February 23, 1997. If that article had not appeared, Maciel’s “classical” victims would never have been heard about in the English-speaking world. The article had repercussions in the Mexican press too. I replied to José that, knowing deceitful and manipulative Maciel, I would not be surprised.

I got to know the ten-nine-eight survivors personally. I had known Juan José Vaca in the Legion. He was a supervisor of mine during my stint taking care of Mexican bishops during Vatican II,  1962-65 and later during my brief stay in Connecticut 1970-71. We respected each other and I heard his testimony of abuse first hand at an International Cultic Studies Association conference in Enfield, CT, in 2002. He told me about “el Padre Penilla” ( he is known in the Legion by his maternal cognomen).

Shortly after ordination, Juan José was assigned by Maciel to oversee the Legion’s junior seminary (Apostolic School) in Ontaneda, Santander, Spain. Several of the young – eleven to fifteen- year-old –  Spanish boys at the Escuela Apostólica complained about Fr. Penilla sexually abusing those under his supervision. Juan José informed Maciel, Maciel dispatched Fr. Arumí, the rector in Salamanca, and Arumí sent Penilla immediately to Madrid, where Fr. Alfredo Torres, another Legionary, put Penilla on a plane to the city of Chetumal, Mexico. There he would be under the supervision of Monsignor Jorge Bernal, LC, who was the Catholic bishop of Quintana Roo, then a Mexican “territory”.[i]

Penilla would fade into the jungle undergrowth. When I got there shortly after that he was pastor of the parish of Isla Mujeres. I did not know about his background at that time and nobody in the Legion ever told me. Besides, I had known Penilla from the time I entered the Novitiate in Salamanca, Spain. He was the male nurse in the community. Fr. Rafael Arumí rector, superior and spiritual director – holding three offices in contravention of Canon Law- made me Penilla’s understudy. We took care of the brothers who would fall ill. I remember taking care of several of my Irish confreres who entered Salamanca in 1961 who had come down with a variety of ailments. I now know that many illnesses were psychosomatic. At that time I was just naïve Brother Pablo, being a good Legionary. Penilla, without any proper medical training -he was Maciel’s nurse too!- adminstered pills without consulting doctors.

He also gave injections when he thought it necessary: vitamin C and B12 were his favorites. I remember see phials of Largactil (Chlorpromatize) in the medicine cabinet. They must have been for Fr. Maciel and his plethora of complaints. Some of the injection were in the gluteus maximus. One victime told me that Penilla would take advantage of the unclothing to fondle the boys genitals. I forgot to mention that Penilla had been abused by Maciel! We know that Maciel’s original especialization was in the exploration of the genitalia of pubertal boys.

Back to Quintana Roo, Mexico. After many years of “ministry” in then very isolated Isla Mujeres[ii], Penilla was moved to the mainland: then capital city and bishop’s residence, Chetumal, on the border with Belize; he was assigned to an obscure town in the countryside, again as unsupervised pastor; he may have spent another period in Cozumel, and finally landed in Cancun as he got older.

Penilla’s unsupervised freedom in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico, and my later knowledge of the Ontaneda debacle through a bona fide eye-witness, has been a source of anguish for me for the past decades. I once tried to get a friend of mind on the ground in Chetumal to do something  about it. But that was to no avail. I fell I was negligent and should have done more to stop Penilla -because I know that pedophiles don’t stop until they are stopped. One dissident Legionary, Fr. Pablo Pérez Guajardo, did all he could to name the sins and sinncers of the Legionaries on the Quintana Roo (you know it as Cancun) State Mission.

If my suspicions are true, I lament the plight of the many boys -and maybe girls and women- in my beloved Quintana Roo, who may have been abused by this Legionary of Christ. Heavenly Father, forgive my sins of negligence and omission and pour your healing balm on those who were abused. Above all, prevent the victims from becoming abusers.

&&&&&

 

Psychological Note:

Not every victim becomes a abuser.

But there is widespread lack of knowled in this regard. Some of the information smacks of old-wives-tales, simple ignorance, and machismo panic. What surpried me in the abstract below is the impact of “parental loss in childhood”.  This lead me to reject the rational and existence of junior seminaries where children abandon their families of origin at the early age or ten or eleven. For me this is the equivalent of parental loss in childhood and it could be a factor in clergy sexual abuse. I am heartened by the Vatican’s intervention in the case of the Heralds of the Gospel, a conservative and old fashioned new religious order founded in Brazil and now widely spread. The order has been told to send all the children in their boarding schools to be sent back home[1]. As their leaders have opposed the Vatican order, many parents have prevailed on local judges to intervene and demand compliance.

 

Here is the result of one psychological study:

Abstract

Background: There is widespread belief in a ‘cycle’ of child sexual abuse, but little empirical evidence for this belief.

Aims: To identify perpetrators of such abuse who had been victims of pedophilia and/or incest, in order to: ascertain whether subjects who had been victims become perpetrators of such abuse; compare characteristics of those who had and had not been victims; and review psychodynamic ideas thought to underlie the behaviour of perpetrators.

Method: Retrospective clinical case note review of 843 subjects attending a specialist forensic psychotherapy centre.

Results: Among 747 males the risk of being a perpetrator was positively correlated with reported sexual abuse victim experiences. The overall rate of having been a victim was 35% for perpetrators and 11% for non-perpetrators. Of the 96 females, 43% had been victims but only one was a perpetrator. A high percentage of male subjects abused in childhood by a female relative became perpetrators. Having been a victim was a strong predictor of becoming a perpetrator, as was an index of parental loss in childhood.

Conclusions: The data support the notion of a victim-to-victimizer cycle in a minority of male perpetrators but not among the female victims studied. Sexual abuse by a female in childhood may be a risk factor for a cycle of abuse in males.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11731348/#:~:text=The%20overall%20rate%20of%20having,a%20female%20relative%20became%20perpetrators

[i]   https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/248938/vatican-minors-living-in-homes-of-heralds-of-the-gospel-must-return-to-their-families

 

[ii] https://pedrojuarezmauss.wordpress.com/2014/07/11/obediencia-perfecta-en-isla-mujeres/

Spanish language article written by Fr. Pablo Pérez Guajardo in 2014. Fr. Pablo died prematurely a few years later after being silenced by acting Legionary bishop, Monsignor Pedro Pablo Elizondo.

Apostolic Nuncio Mentions Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi & Marcial Maciel re Sexual Abuse

Mexico bishops investigated over abuse cover-up allegations

Archbishop Franco Coppola , Apostolic Nuncio to Mexico, has revealed that 12 bishops in Mexico are being investigated for covering up the abuse.
By Madoc Cairnes  The Tablet, Nov 3, 2021

Twelve bishops in Mexico are being investigated for covering up the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults, although no conclusions have so far been reached, the Vatican ambassador to the South America nation has revealed.

Archbishop Franco Coppola, the Apostolic Nuncio to Mexico, said that some of the investigations, carried out on the basis of new norms established by Pope Francis, have been referred to the Vatican itself. 

With the Nuncio’s revelation that more than one-sixth of Mexico’s Bishops are under suspicion of concealing abuse, the image of the Church in the overwhelmingly Catholic nation is likely to be further tarnished.

In 2019 one bishop revealed that at least 103 Catholic priests in Mexico have been suspended in the past nine years for sexual abuse against minors, out of more than 271 priests have been accused of sexual abuse.

In 2020 the Pope sent the team of investigators he directed to Chile in 2018 to Mexico, in a move suggesting problems of abuse and cover-up in Mexico could be as severe as the Chilean crisis. Although the visit was cancelled, Archbishop Coppola, the Papal representative in Mexico, has made confronting the abuse crisis a personal priority. 

Mexico was at the epicentre of one the most significant cases of abuse and cover-up in the recent history of the church, that of Fr Marciel Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ.

An internal report by the religious order in 2019 concluded that Maciel had abused at least 60 minors over decades – during which Maciel, and the legion, were regularly lauded by the institutional Church.

The consequences of the scandal continue to unfold. When Archbishop Coppola released his personal email and appealed for victims of abuse to come forward, most of those who contacted them wanted, he said, to talk about the Legionaries of Christ. 

With 84 million Catholic residents, Mexico has one of the highest number of Catholic inhabitants in the world, second only to Brazil. The moral authority of the Church in Mexico has been eroded in recent years, however, with protestant denominations making inroads in the north and south of the country. Across Latin America, the portion of people who identify as Catholic has declined in recent decades, from around 90 per cent in the 1960s to 69 per cent in 2014. 

Names of Non-Compensated Sexual Abuse Victims of Fr. Marcial Maciel, Founder and Superior General of the Legion(aries) of Christ/Regnum Christi Federation

Fr. Maciel (1920-2008) began abusing his adolescent seminarians soon after the foundation in Mexico City 1941. He was investigated twice by the Vatican, never went to trial in canon or civil law, and lived out his days in luxury and pleasure, unrepentent.

 

Names of Not Compensated Sexual Abuse Victims of Fr. Maciel, Founder and Superior General of the Legion(aries) of Christ -now morphed into Regnum Christi Federation

 

Recently deceased while the Legion/Regnum Superiors played cat and mouse, waiting for them to die off:

Saúl Barrales Arellano    (maternal surname goes last in Spanish; although people can be named by their maternal surname in certain cases, as in the case of Francisco González, called Parga )

Félix Alarcón Hoyos

Fernando Pérez Olvera

 

Living Survivors in their 80s,

two of whom are living in abject poverty and illness

José de Jesús Barba Martín

Alejandro Espinosa Alcalá

Francisco González Parga – together  with  Alarcón, the only other victim                                    ordained to priesthood-  went public in 2005 when  victims                                    were  interviewed by then Vatican Prosecutor, Mons. Charles                                Scicluna, in Mexico City)

Arturo Jurado Guzmán

José Antonio Pérez Olvera

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