Benedict’s ‘Legion’: Smaller, not much purer?
The story of the powerful and deeply conservative Legion of Christ society is one of the most sordid tales of the Catholic Church’s recent past, with the Legion’s founder, the late Father Marciel Maciel having covered his crimes and insinuated himself in Rome through the use of pious rhetoric and lots of cash.
It was not until Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected Pope Benedict XVI that the longstanding cries of Maciel’s victims began to be heard.
Now the AP’s Nicole Winfield reports that the expected top-to-bottom reform of the Legion is not happening, and members are fleeing:
One year later, none of the Legion’s superiors has been held to account for facilitating the crimes of late founder Rev. Marciel Maciel, a drug addict who sexually abused his seminarians, fathered three children and created a cult-like movement within the church that damaged some of its members spiritually and emotionally.
An Associated Press tally shows that disillusioned members are leaving the movement in droves as they lose faith that the Vatican will push through the changes needed. The collapse of the order, once one of the most influential in the church, has broader implications for Catholicism, which is shedding members in some places because the hierarchy covered up widespread sexual abuse by priests.
In an exclusive interview, the man tapped by Benedict to turn the Legion around insisted that the pope tasked him only with guiding the Legion and helping rewrite its norms – not “decapitating” its leadership or avenging wrongdoing.
Cardinal Velasio De Paolis ruled out any further investigation into the crimes of Maciel, who as a favorite of Pope John Paul II had been held up as a living saint despite well-founded allegations – later proven – that he was a pedophile.
“I don’t see what good would be served” by further inquiry into a coverup, the Italian cardinal said. “Rather, we would run the risk of finding ourselves in an intrigue with no end. Because these are things that are too private for me to go investigating.”
The outcome of this investigation will weigh heavily in the eventual verdict on Benedict’s approach to sexual abuse in the church. Read the rest here.