Founder of Legionaries Disciplined by Pope Benedict

by Steve Ray on May 20, 2006

Steve’s Note: This is really too bad — another priest who has given the Church a black eye – but the Pope has a job to do and I am sure glad he has the fortitude and integrity to do it. Bravo Pope Benedict!

However, Janet and I have many wonderful friends who are Legionaire priests and seminarians and this judgment against their founder is in NO WAY a reflection on these fine and upstanding men! I feel great sorrow for the wonderful priests who now have to live in the shadow of their leader’s downfall.

Marciel.jpgFirst:  AP Report: Pope Benedict XVI disciplined the founder of the conservative Legionaries of Christ, a favorite of Pope John Paul II who for decades has been dogged by sexual abuse allegations — effectively making the elderly prelate a priest in name only.

In its announcement Friday the Vatican did not say whether it had determined if the accusations against the 86-year-old Mexican priest, the Rev. Marcial Maciel, were true. But canon law experts said the Vatican would not have imposed such a severe penalty unless it found at least some validity to the complaints.

The Vatican said its Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had “invited the priest to a reserved life of prayer and penance, renouncing every public ministry,” — meaning he cannot celebrate Mass or other sacraments in public.

Maciel is the most prominent Catholic Church official to be disciplined by the Vatican for alleged involvement in child sexual abuse. In addition, it marks the first major abuse penalty approved by Benedict since he became pope last year, and shows he is not afraid pursuing prelates who enjoyed particular favor with Pope John Paul II. ….

For the whole story, click here.

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Second:
Canon Lawyer Edward Peters shares his insights on Fr. Maciel’s Penance 

“The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith has invited Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, to spend his remaining days in “prayer and penance, refraining from all public ministry”. Given the enormity of the sexual abuse accusations made against Maciel and the apparent credibility of many of his accusers, this directive (an “invitation” from CDF being essentially indistinguishable from an order), stopping short of a trial and well short of a conviction (or, for that matter, exoneration), will strike some as an inadequate resolution of this case.”

 For his blog comments, click here http://www.canonlaw.info/2006/05/fr-maciels-penance_19.html

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Third: The Official Vatican Release:

COMMUNIQUE CONCERNING FOUNDER OF LEGIONARIES OF CHRIST

VATICAN CITY, MAY 19, 2006 (VIS) – With reference to recent news concerning the person of Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, the Holy See Press Office released the following communique:

“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.”
OP/LEGIONARIES CHRIST/MACIEL VIS 060519 (320)

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