Disgraced Catholic order denounces founder, apologizes to victims

ROME Thu Feb 6, 2014 3:24pm EST

1 of 5. Father Eduardo Robles Gil (R), the new leader of the Legionaries of Christ order, smiles after leading a mass in the order seminary in Rome February 6, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Max Rossi

ROME (Reuters) - A disgraced Catholic religious order whose late founder lived a double life as a paedophile, womanizer and drug addict officially denounced him on Thursday and apologized to his "many victims".

The Legionaries of Christ, which former members said was run like a cult rooted in secrecy, accused Father Marcial Maciel of "reprehensible and objectively immoral behavior" as head of the order from 1941 until former Pope Benedict removed him in 2006.

Once a darling of the Vatican because it attracted many Catholics to religious vocations and made sizeable financial donations to the Church, the order has been in Vatican receivership since 2010 and came close to being disbanded.

The apology, issued by delegates from around the world meeting in Rome to set a new direction for the order, came a day after a United Nations committee singled it out in a scathing report accusing the Church of ignoring child abuse by priests.

The statement denounced "the magnitude of the evil and scandal caused" by Maciel, who died in 2008, and said the conservative order was now ready to turn a page.

The meeting, which began on January 8 and is due to end in late February, elected Father Eduardo Robles Gil as the order's new leader. Like Maciel, the 61-year-old hails from Mexico.

"We want to express our deep sorrow for the abuse of minor seminarians, the immoral acts with men and women who were adults, the arbitrary use of his authority and of material goods ..." the order said.

BULWARK AGAINST CHURCH LIBERALS

For decades the Vatican dismissed accusations by seminarians that Maciel had abused them sexually, some when they were as young as 12. The order's rules forbade criticizing the founder or questioning his motives.

Pope John Paul II, set to become a saint in April, strongly backed Maciel even as criticism of him mounted and appreciated the order's faster growth than other religious groups.

The order also had many wealthy conservative benefactors who saw it as a bulwark against liberalism in the Church.

In 2006, a year after John Paul's death, a Vatican investigation concluded the previously denied accusations of molestation were true. Pope Benedict ordered Maciel to retire to a life of "prayer and penitence".

After his death, Vatican investigations found Maciel had also fathered several children with at least two different women, visited them regularly and sent them money.

"We are grieved that many victims and other affected persons have waited so long in vain for an apology and an act of reconciliation on the part of Fr. Maciel. Today, we would like to issue that apology as we express our solidarity with these persons," it said.

The order runs private Catholic schools and charitable organizations in 22 countries through its network of some 950 priests and 1,000 seminarians. It operates a Catholic university in Rome and its lay movement, known as Regnum Christi, has around 30,000 members.

(Reporting By Philip Pullella)

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Comments (4)
RichardEHung wrote:
The church likes to wait until an offender is dead before bothering to notice that he’s a paediphile. The priest molester we knew, Father Alvin Campbell, was under Ratzinger in Germany. Once a victim complained, Ratzinger quietly moved Campbell to US, where he was convicted of molesting 6+ more boys. Campbell served 15 years, still receiving his military and Catholic pension. He retired to a hice place in Florida, where he died peacefully in his bed in 2002.

Naturally the Catholic church doesn’t really care to punish its own. That’s why they wait until the offenders are dead – less muss. They just counsel and release, usually giving the priest a fresh flock to prey upon, more unsuspecting young children to groom and violate.

This won’t change as long as the Catholic Church covers up for their own. They need to kick out offenders IMMEDIATELY and make sure they are subject to full secular legal authority. They must stop being part of the problem, protecting molesters, and start being part of the solution, purging molesters from their ranks.

Would Christ have permitted a disciple that molested children? I think he would have become very angry and thrown a temple-sized tantrum about it. It’s OK to forgive the molester as he takes his dying breath, but to give him fresh victims after the usual hand-slapping is absolutely criminal.

My family was once Catholic, but we refuse to be part of institutionalized criminal conspiracy. That is NOT what forgiveness is all about.

Feb 07, 2014 2:37am EST  --  Report as abuse
RichardEHung wrote:
The church likes to wait until an offender is dead before bothering to notice that he’s a paediphile. The priest molester we knew, Father Alvin Campbell, was under Ratzinger in Germany. Once a victim complained, Ratzinger quietly moved Campbell to US, where he was convicted of molesting 6+ more boys. Campbell served 15 years, still receiving his military and Catholic pension. He retired to a hice place in Florida, where he died peacefully in his bed in 2002.

Naturally the Catholic church doesn’t really care to punish its own. That’s why they wait until the offenders are dead – less muss. They just counsel and release, usually giving the priest a fresh flock to prey upon, more unsuspecting young children to groom and violate.

This won’t change as long as the Catholic Church covers up for their own. They need to kick out offenders IMMEDIATELY and make sure they are subject to full secular legal authority. They must stop being part of the problem, protecting molesters, and start being part of the solution, purging molesters from their ranks.

Would Christ have permitted a disciple that molested children? I think he would have become very angry and thrown a temple-sized tantrum about it. It’s OK to forgive the molester as he takes his dying breath, but to give him fresh victims after the usual hand-slapping is absolutely criminal.

My family was once Catholic, but we refuse to be part of institutionalized criminal conspiracy. That is NOT what forgiveness is all about.

Feb 07, 2014 2:37am EST  --  Report as abuse
RichardEHung wrote:
The Catholic Church has lost all moral authority. That whole institution needs to be purged with fire and brimstone to rip out the cancer of child molesters within its ranks. That it does not do so is testimony to how deep the corruption remains. We will never go back to the Catholic Church, we have seen too many children victimized by our parrish priest, and the priest miraculously transported to fresh victims over the cries of the children he molested. The entire institution is rotten to its very core. Burn all the priests.

Feb 07, 2014 2:40am EST  --  Report as abuse
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