More Legion of Christ child abuse scandals

This video is called Vows Of Silence — Marcial Maciel, the Legion of Christ, and Regnum Christi.

From Associated Press:

May 22, 3:21 AM EDT

Legion No. 1 admits he knew of priest’s kid in ’05


VATICAN CITY — The head of the embattled Legion of Christ religious order admitted Tuesday to covering up news that his most prominent priest had fathered a child and announced a review of all past allegations of sexual abuse against Legion priests amid a growing scandal at the order.

The Rev. Alvaro Corcuera wrote a letter to all Legion members in which he admitted he knew before he became superior in 2005 that the Rev. Thomas Williams, a well-known American television personality, author and moral theologian, had fathered a child. He said he had heard rumors of the child even before then when he was rector but took Williams’ word they weren’t true.

Corcuera acknowledged that even after he confirmed Williams’ paternity, he did nothing to prevent him from teaching morality to seminarians or preaching about ethics on television, in his many speaking engagements or his 14 books, including “Knowing Right from Wrong: A Christian Guide to Conscience.”

Williams, for example, was the keynote speaker at a Legion-affiliated women’s conference just last month in the U.S.

Williams admitted last week he had fathered the child after The Associated Press confronted the Legion with the allegation. In a new statement Tuesday, Williams said he had resisted his superiors’ encouragement to keep a low profile after the allegations were known to them.

“I foolishly thought that I had left this sin in my past, and that I could make up for some of the wrong I had done by doing the greatest good possible with the gifts God has given me. This was an error in judgment, and yet another thing I must ask your forgiveness for,” he wrote, according to the text obtained by the AP.

Williams has not identified the mother or said whether he was supporting the child or in any way involved in the child’s life. The Legion has said the child is being cared for.

Revelations of Williams’ child have further eroded the Legion’s credibility and compounded the scandal at the order, which in 2009 admitted that its late founder, the Rev. Marcial Maciel had sexually abused his seminarians and fathered three children with two women. Maciel, who founded the Legion in 1941 in Mexico, died in 2008.

The scandal is particularly grave given that Maciel was held up as a model for the faithful by Pope John Paul II, who was impressed by the orthodox order’s ability to attract money and young men to the priesthood. Maciel’s double life, and the well-known problems of the cult-like order, have cast a shadow over John Paul’s legacy since the Vatican knew of Maciel’s crimes as early as 1950 yet he enjoyed the highest Vatican praise and access until he was finally sanctioned by Rome in 2006.

In 2010, the Vatican took over the Legion after determining that the order itself had been contaminated by Maciel’s influence and needed to be “purified.” The Vatican cited problems of the Legion’s culture, in which silence reigned and authority was abused, as being in need of reform, as well as the need for its constitutions to be rewritten and its charism, or essential spirit, to be defined.

Following an AP investigation, the Legion on May 11 admitted that seven priests were under Vatican investigation for allegedly sexually abusing minors, an indication that Maciel’s crimes were not his alone. Corcuera provided an update Tuesday, saying two of those cases had been dismissed, leaving five abuse-related cases under investigation by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Another two priests are being investigated for other sacramental violations, believed to involve using confession or spiritual direction to have inappropriate sexual relations with women.

In his letter Tuesday, Corcuera announced that the Legion was going to review all past cases of allegations of sexual abuse to ensure that they were handled properly. Victims of Legion priests and critics of the order have said there are many more cases of abusers which have been well-known to the leadership but covered up for decades.

“Are there other cases waiting to be discovered, more scandals ready to attack your faith and trust? I can never say for sure,” Corcuera wrote. “I can, however, tell you that we are following the lead of Pope Benedict XVI in dealing with abuse and sexual misconduct in the Legion.”

Corcuera’s letter is unlikely to stem the outrage among the members of the Legion’s lay branch Regnum Christi, for whom Williams was a major point of reference in the United States and a top public defender of Maciel when the allegations of his crimes were leveled years ago.

One month ago, Williams was the keynote speaker at Regnum Christi’s April 18-21 annual national women’s convention in Greenville, Rhode Island, where he spoke about his 2010 book on Jesus. He was scheduled to be the keynote speaker at another Regnum Christi women’s conference in Michigan in October.

Corcuera said he actually knew of the allegations against Williams before he became superior in 2005, but took Williams’ word that they weren’t true. After becoming superior in 2005, he said he learned for sure of the child’s existence and asked Williams to start withdrawing from his public work. But only in 2010 did he limit Williams’ work as a priest.

Williams, however, continued to write books, speak at conventions, author articles and, most significantly, teach morality to seminarians at the Legion’s university in Rome. He only stopped teaching in February, abruptly, after a Spanish association of victims of the Legion forwarded the allegations against Williams to the Vatican.

Catholic order in paedophilia trouble

The late John Paul II gives his blessing to Father Marcial Maciel in 2004. Senior figures in the church benefited from the huge fortune amassed by Maciel's Legionaries of Christ

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Pope acts against incest priest’s group

Immensely wealthy Catholic organisation, set up by controversial Mexican cleric and favoured by John Paul II, likely to be closed down

By Hugh O’Shaughnessy

Sunday, 8 August 2010

The Legionaries of Christ, the Roman Catholic group that combines an estimated £21bn fortune with intense moral turpitude and extreme conservatism, is facing its nemesis this month. For years the organisation was protected by John Paul II, the Polish pope, and his former secretary Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, Archbishop of Krakow. Now the reputation of Father Marcial Maciel, a Mexican who founded the group in 1941 when he was studying for holy orders, is at last falling victim to the reforming drive of John Paul II’s German successor, Benedict XVI.

Incestuous father of three – or perhaps six – children, serial paedophile, morphine addict, lover of la dolce vita, and pretend CIA agent, Maciel, who died in 2008, aged 87, built up a huge religious empire. It commanded the allegiance of 750 priests and 2,500 seminarians from 39 countries in the Legion proper, with 70,000 members in a lay offshoot, Regnum Christi, the Kingdom of Christ, and 131,000 students in its schools and universities.

The militaristic name of the organisation recalls Mexico’s blood-soaked 1920s, chronicled by Graham Greene, when the Cristeros, loyal to religious traditions, rose up in revolt against the country’s anti-clerical governments. There are several parallels with the early days of the secretive Spanish-based organisation Opus Dei, another favourite of John Paul II’s. The reputation of the Polish pontiff cannot but take a knock as the true story of Maciel and his Legion is revealed.

Benedict often expressed his distaste for Maciel, whose early predilection for paedophilia was detected but not acted upon by Rome.

The Pope finally ordered him in 2006 to cease performing religious services in public and to undertake a “life of prayer and penitence” for his sins. Since then, Pope Benedict, who visits Britain next month, has reinforced his solid but hitherto unacknowledged record of extirpating abuse in the church by his attitude to the Legion. In May, the Vatican said that Maciel had led a double life “devoid of scruples and authentic religious sentiment”.

Referring to the Legion’s practice of imposing on its members a “fourth vow” – in addition to the three traditional ones of poverty, chastity and obedience – which demanded unconditional and uncomplaining acceptance of what Maciel said, the Vatican said: “By pushing away and casting doubt upon all those who questioned his behaviour… he created around him a defence mechanism that made him unassailable for a long period, making it difficult to know his true life.”

The Pope has now given Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, an expert on running religious orders and a financial specialist, full powers over the Legion. He is getting down to work, and the Legion is unlikely to survive in any recognisable form.

Benedict is tacitly repudiating the attitudes of John Paul II and Archbishop Dziwisz. The late pope had called Maciel “an efficacious guide to youth”, and applauded his gift for attracting young men to the depleted ranks of the priesthood. Senior figures in the church, who were often the recipients of the Legion’s financial largesse, rejoiced in his genius for fundraising and fortune building.

Maciel’s early associates included Miguel Aleman, Mexico’s president from 1946-52 and the creator of his country’s tourist industry, and went on to include his compatriot Carlos Slim, the world’s richest man and owner of a big stake in The New York Times. In a long investigation of the Legion, the National Catholic Reporter of Kansas City identified Mr Slim as “a major Legion supporter”. He was also close to the Garza-Sada family in Mexico, which controls a billion-dollar empire based in the northern Mexican industrial metropolis of Monterrey. The Garza family, though divided on the question of the Legion, is deeply embedded in it, as Luis Garza’s position at the head of the Grupo Integer, the Legion’s management wing, shows. In the world of the arts, his contacts included Placido Domingo, the Spanish tenor who grew up in Mexico, and Mel Gibson, the actor and director.

Politically, he was closely linked with the far right in the US, mixing with Jeb Bush, brother of George W Bush, Rick Santorum, a former US senator, and Thomas Monaghan, the Domino’s Pizza magnate who paid for the new cathedral in Nicaragua’s capital, Managua, which replaced the one that was destroyed in the 1972 earthquake.

After surviving constant accusations of sex with young men, Maciel took up with women late in life. Raul Gonzalez and his younger brother Cristian were born to Maciel and Blanca Lara, a domestic servant, whom Maciel met in 1976 when she was 19 and he 56. He told her his name was Raul Rivas and that he was a CIA agent and a security man for oil companies. The two boys and Omar – a son she had had from a previous relationship and whom he adopted – were brought up in a house he bought for her in Cuernavaca. In a recent television interview, Raul claimed: “When I was seven years old, I was lying down with him like any boy, any son with his father. He pulled down my pants and tried to rape me.” He was later sent to a boarding school in Ireland.

Maciel had at least one other liaison. A few years after meeting Blanca, he met Norma Hilda Baños in Acapulco. In 1987, when she was 26, she bore his daughter, also named Norma Hilda. At times their father took his children on trips to Europe. His son Raul is now suing the Legionaries of Christ in the US for their part in allowing Maciel to maintain an incestuous relationship with him for many years.

[Extreme Right] Hutton Gibson, the 91-year-old father of disgraced actor Mel Gibson, called Pope Benedict XVI a homosexual during a radio interview over the weekend, TMZ reported Monday: here.

Mexican gay rights activists and Catholic protestors clash: here.

Britain: Latest ‘Protest the Pope’ campaign meeting a success: here.

I’m a Catholic Latina and I’m on the pill: here.

Analysis from Eugene Kennedy: ‘New Vatican head is a small change, but still a big part of clerical culture’: here.

Opus Dei and the War on Birth Control: Neofascism Within the Catholic Church: here.

Mexican Cristeros war: here.