Skip to main content

Author praises Vatican for sanctioning Legionaries founder

By Matt Abbott

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.”


Matt Abbott  IL, US
Matt Abbott - Author, 



Catholic, Abbott

Rate This Article

Very Helpful Somewhat Helpful Not Helpful at All

Yes, I am Interested No, I am not Interested

Rate Article


Leave a Comment

Comments submitted must be civil, remain on-topic and not violate any laws including copyright. We reserve the right to delete any comments which are abusive, inappropriate or not constructive to the discussion.

Though we invite robust discussion, we reserve the right to not publish any comment which denigrates the human person, undermines marriage and the family, or advocates for positions which openly oppose the teaching of the Catholic Church.

This is a supervised forum and the Editors of Catholic Online retain the right to direct it.

We also reserve the right to block any commenter for repeated violations. Your email address is required to post, but it will not be published on the site.

We ask that you NOT post your comment more than once. Catholic Online is growing and our ability to review all comments sometimes results in a delay in their publication.

Send me important information from Catholic Online and it's partners. See Sample

Post Comment

Newsletter Sign Up

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Thessalonians 5:1-6, 9-11
About times and dates, brothers, there is no need to write to ... Read More

Saint of the Day

September 1 Saint of the Day

St. Giles, Abbot
September 1: St. Giles, Abbot (Patron of Physically Disabled) Feast day - ... Read More