Pray for those hurt. Pray for the members of the Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi. Pray for the Church.
CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) - My awareness of this horrible news began with the somewhat odd "hint" given by Apologist, Author and Blogger Patrick Madrid who sent shock waves and questions throughout the Catholic and broader Christian community with this veiled reference on January 31, 2009: "I'm sorry to tell you that some shocking, saddening news about a prominent figure in the Church will soon become publically known, perhaps as early as Monday or Tuesday. Don't worry. This is not about the Holy Father or any previous pope, nor does it have to do with a lay person. Let's start praying earnestly that God will bring some kind of good from this and, of course, offer prayers for those involved."
However, my efforts to get to the facts of this shocking story led me to Thomas Peters of "American Papist" who broke the real substance of this awful turn of events (http://www.americanpapist.com/blog.html). He has done a great job of keeping the reports factual while maintaining the proper spirit in delivering such devastating news. No-one can do anything but mourn over this news, and pray for the members of the community birthed from the work of this now deceased, errant Priest. The ecclesial movement consists of a global order of priests, the Legion, which now has 800 members and 2,500 seminarians, and a lay community called Regnum Christi which is present in 22 Nations and has 70,000 members. The story has now been picked up in numerous new media sources as well as in the more traditional media venues. That includes the newspaper associated with the community and lay movement.
The Members of the Legionaries of Christ and its lay movement, Regnum Christi, are deeply shocked and heartsick. Their founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, had already been alleged to have been involved in serious and scandalous sexual impropriety in the past. They had hoped that those matters of the past would have stayed matters of the past. The allegations have sometimes been relegated to the level of unsubstantiated suspicion by some within the community. However, in 2006 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith found them substantial enough to respond with a direction that Fr. Marcial cease from his involvement in any and all public ministry:
"...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."
Father Marciel Marciel followed the direction of the Church. He lived the remainder of his life as a penitent. He died on January 30, 2008 at the age of 87. However, the Religious community and lay movement he founded continued their many apostolic endeavors. Both have produced some wonderful work in and for the Church. Certainly its lay members, its priests and all who recognize the good which they have all done - and, hopefully will continue to do - were shocked by these new reports.
Here they are. The influential, deceased founder of the Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi, Fr. Marcial Maciel, a consecrated celibate priest, is alleged to have had a mistress, fathered at least one child and lived a double life. I will use the summary set forth in the recent article on "American Papist" written by Thomas Peters. It appears to be the most comprehensive, up to date and substantive. It is based upon numerous reports including sources within the community itself:
"1) Maciel fathered a child who is now in her early 20's;
"2) Maciel offered some money illicitly to his own family;
"3) The current head, Alvaro Corcuera, entertaining his own suspicions, demanded that the case be reopened several years ago;
"4) The health of the Legion depends on denouncing him as founder and moving on.
"I have heard more details in addition (a second child, etc), but in this situation, I tend to think we've already learned enough to make an evaluation. Anything further is simply prurient interest."
One of the fruits of the work of the Legionaries has been the National Catholic Register which is owned by the community. The editor of the paper is Tom Hoopes. He commented on the matter: "All I want to say is, I'm sorry. I want to say it here, because I defended Fr. Maciel here, and I need to be on the record regarding that defense: I'm sorry, to the victims, who were victims twice, the second time by calumny. I'm sorry, to the Church, which has been damaged. I'm sorry, to those I've misled. I did it unwittingly, but this isn't a time for excuses. The Church gave me great, great good in Regnum Christi. The Church did bring justice, and did penalize this man. Thank God for the Church. I seek repentance and forgiveness, and I leave it at that."
We ask all of the readers of Catholic Online throughout the world to pray for those hurt by this behavior. Pray for the members of the Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi. I have known Legionary Priests and lay members of Regnum Christi. They have all been wonderful Catholics and good people, deeply in love with the Lord and His holy Church. My heart breaks for them in this time of struggle and disappointment. We also ask our readers to pray for the Catholic Church which, in the midst of this very difficult time of history, will now also have to bear with what will be a fierce season of reaction to this latest tragedy.
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