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Author praises Vatican for sanctioning Legionaries founder

By Matt Abbott
Op/Ed

The Vatican issued the following statement on May 19, 2006:

"Beginning in 1998, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith received accusations, already partly made public, against Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ, for crimes that fall under the exclusive competence of the congregation. In 2002, Fr. Maciel published a declaration denying the accusations and expressing his displeasure at the offence done him by certain former Legionaries of Christ. In 2005, by reason of his advanced age, Fr. Maciel retired from the office of superior general of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ.

"All these elements have been subject to a mature examination by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and - in accordance with the Motu Proprio 'Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela,' promulgated on April 30 2001 by Servant of God John Paul II - the then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, authorized an investigation into the accusations. In the meantime, Pope John II died and Cardinal Ratzinger was elected as the new Pontiff.

"After having attentively studied the results of the investigation, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, under the guidance of the new prefect, Cardinal William Joseph Levada, decided - bearing in mind Fr. Maciel's advanced age and his delicate health - to forgo a canonical hearing and to invite the father to a reserved life of penitence and prayer, relinquishing any form of public ministry. The Holy Father approved these decisions.

"Independently of the person of the Founder, the worthy apostolate of the Legionaries of Christ and of the Association 'Regnum Christi' is gratefully recognized."

Gerald Renner, co-author of "Vows of Silence : The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II," provided me with the following statement on the matter:

"I am happy after all these years to see that justice is finally done by the Vatican on behalf of the victims of sexual abuse of Father Marcial Maciel. The Church statement was very gentle and compassionate in recognition of the failing health and advanced age of the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, but it rightly strips him of his public persona as a priest and makes clear that at least some of the charges against him are well-founded. But there also needs to be an acknowledgement directly to Father Maciel's victims of the sanctions taken against him.

"The action further serves notice that under the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI similar allegations against others, no matter how mighty, will be taken seriously."

Glenn Favreau joined the Legionaries of Christ in 1984; he served them for 13 years -- in Connecticut, Spain, Chile and Rome. In 1997, Favreau, then a deacon, left the order when he "realized the burdens on the conscience were too heavy...to take."

Favreau says he was not a victim of sexual abuse and was not called to testify in the investigation of Father Maciel, but he has been working with other former members of the order since 2001.

He provided me with the following statement:

"I am pleased the Vatican has acted to bring justice to so many victims of Maciel's crimes. I see this as an initial step in a very wide investigation which looked into violations of canon law regarding spiritual direction and confession, the private vow of the Legion not to criticize superiors, and mistreatment of ex-members as well as many other abuses.

"As far as the Legion goes now: Their posture -- and their press statement -- is contradictory. They want to claim the pope is wise and Maciel is a saint. Well, they have always seen the pope as someone worthy of great respect, obedience down to his very wishes, and even a certain adoration of his person. They have extolled Benedict as a very wise man in the past (as cardinal).

"Benedict reopened this investigation and approved the results. There is to be no trial, but there is a sentence. The Church does not impose a sentence where there is no crime. This pope cannot be wise and correct if Maciel is not guilty of sexual abuses.

"The Legion's logic is unsustainable. It is not Christ-like not to defend one's self. Christ defended his ministry lots of times. It was his salvific act as Son of God to which he went as a sheep led to slaughter. But it is typical of Maciel to equate himself with Jesus Christ. You can be sure that the Legion's statement comes directly from him. Nothing has ever gone on the in the Legion without his direct approval."

Contact

Matt Abbott
http://www.catholic.org IL, US
Matt Abbott - Author,

Email

mattcabbott@gmail.com

Keywords

Catholic, Abbott

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