The implosion of the Legionaries of Christ is "unique in modern church history," writes Jason Berry of New Orleans for the Hartford Courant. And much of the fault lies squarely with Pope Benedict XVI, who in May of 2006 approved an order banishing order founder Father Marcial Maciel Degollado from public ministry to "a life of prayer and penitence," but ignoring the victims and failing to specify the causes of action.
Those omissions gave credence to a stream of misinformation which apparently continues amid a rising chorus of calls for top down reform of the $650 million-a-year order with seminaries, prep schools and universities spread across the globe.
On Feb. 3 it was revealed that Maciel had fathered a daughter, but there has still be no comprehensive report dealing the other issues. Specifically, as Berry wrote:
In 1997, Gerald Renner and I reported in The Courant on sex abuse accusations against Maciel by nine men who had been Legion seminarians in Spain and Rome in the 1950s. Juan Vaca, who said his abuse began at age 12, produced documents he sent to the Vatican in the 1970s and in 1989, to Pope John Paul II. Each time, the Vatican failed to act.
On Feb. 25, Archbishop of Baltimore, Edwin F. O’Brien called on the Legion of Christ to give “full disclosure” of their founder’s activities and has expressed his concerns that the movement ‘fosters a culture of personality’ with the founder at the center. The Legion of Christ had committed to releasing a major statement no later than that day, and no such statement was forthcoming.