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investigation by Benedict XVI, the Holy See ordered in 2006 the withdrawal of Marcial Maciel who was asked to “lead a withdrawn existence in prayer and penance.”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.

Part One: The Legion of Christ  Continues to Avoid Compensating Victims of Sexual Abuse by its Founder, Father Marcial Maciel, LC.

The Legion of Christ  Continues to Avoid Compensating Victims of Sexual Abuse by its Founder, Father Marcial Maciel, LC.

One year ago, the Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi Federation proudly published  its chapter documents “Conversion and Repair”, “Protect and Heal” and the “Report of Abuse…” [i] in which it formally promised to compensate  the  victims for the damages  of sexual abuse suffered  at the hands of founder, Father Marcial Maciel, LC.

Today we want to inform the public what has become of such   words, documents and  promises: that in fact  the Legion of Christ, as represented by Father  Robles Gil and Regnum Christi Federation, Fr.  John Connor, have once again de facto  answered:   “NO”, “NO, WE WILL NOT” to the historical victims.  Another year has gone by WITHOUT EFFECTIVE  REPARATION.

WHAT DID THE HISTORICAL VICTIMS DEMAND OF DIRECTOR GENERAL (Father John Connor) AT THE MEETING THEY HAD A YEAR AGO?

  1. That the LC/RC publish an apology in the same media in which victims were falsely accused and unjustly libeled in 1997, so as to repair their good name, reputation and that of the relatives inheriting their name. That it be declared unambiguously  that they were not conspirators, that they were telling the truth; that the Legion’s false accusation had caused them to lose their jobs, and/or effected their careers, income, relationships, friendships and even families for decades after.

HOW DID THE LEGION OF CHRIST RESPOND? IN THE NEGATIVE:

“We will not publish anything in major newspapers or with international reach, and less in the Hartford Courant.” (newspaper in which the Legion published the false accusations and documents against Maciel’s accusers  in 1997.)

  1. That a team of six be chosen -three by the LC and three by the victims- to determine together the extent of damage the LC had caused them, and reach an agreement on just

 HOW DID THE LEGION OF CHRIST RESPOND? IN THE NEGATIVE

At  said meeting, a Legion priest representative  pulled out his pocket calculator in front of them, maid calculation re Mexican minimum wages, and offered 450,000 pesos approx. ($22,500  UScy)  to each victim to repair decades of international abuse, harm, and  defamation.  The Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi Federation demanded they sign a Confidentiality Agreement  (mug order) as a requirement to continue deliberations.

  1. José Barba, PhD, who had legal representation, requested in writing from the Director General that any communication or communication relevant to deliberations go through him, Barba, their representative.

HOW DID THE LEGION OF CHRIST RESPOND?

Saying “OF COURSE,”,  BUT PROCEDING TO DO THE OPPOSITE!

The present Director (Superior) General of the institution, Father John Connor,  personally and directly, approached several victims, going over the head of legal representative, José Barba, and secretly offering them  $5,000  UScy individually  – “not as compensation but as an Easter Egg Gift” (sic). With this treacherous strategy, Fr. Connor effectively split the group of plaintiffs and weakened their position.

Where in the Name of God is the honest good will of this apparently bone fide Catholic religious order? One cannot help wondering now:

IS THE LEGION/REGNUM WAITING FOR VICTIMS TO DIE OFF AND THE PROBLEM TO GO AWAY?

The Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi waiting game continues. The eighty-year-old victims are dying: Fernando Pérez Olvera Esq in 2020 and Father Félix Alarcón  Hoyos in 2021. To protect its public image, the institution helped to defray costs of their  terminal illness and funeral expenses. BUT IT HAS NOT COMPENSATED THEM in the proper and agreed manner. The group’s de facto consistent priority is, as in other questionable groups, recruitment of the young and vulnerable together with fund-raising to train recruits, expand its projects, and promote its image.

If things go on like this, will the LC/RC ever honor its obligations to the remaining victims and to the deceased’s dependents?

Hopefully,  they will not answer the same as always: “What can be done after such a long time. But don’t worry. We will pray for you.”

Support Network of  Victims of Sexual Abuse by Founder of the Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi Federation, Fr. Marcial Maciel, LC

February 26, 2021

 

 

[i] https://legionariosdecristo.org/

[i] https://legionariosdecristo.org/tag/conversion-y-reparacion/

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