Fr. Maciel steps down

Fr. Maciel steps down

Once again, I am not saying that the allegations against Fr. Maciel of the Legionaries of Christ are true, but it is interesting that even as the Vatican has apparently re-opened an investigation regarding those allegations and soon after an American archbishop placed restrictions on the order,  Fr. Maciel announced he would not stand again for election as general director of the order. Now, it makes sense that Fr. Maciel, who is 84 years old, would want to retire, but the timing is interesting. Why this year? Why not last year, and so on?

A series of interesting facts do not necessarily add up to anything, but it’s always worth noting patterns. I will say up front that I have had friends in the LC and have admired the order’s work and dedication and orthodoxy. But that doesn’t mean that I will not listen to any criticism or just dismiss it out of hand. If the Scandal has taught me anything, it’s that anybody is capable of anything.

  • Dear Dom,

      I agree that the circumstances raise an eyebrow. Whatever the results of the inquiry, it is very good that the Holy See is giving the accusers a hearing.
      O Diogenes …… where are you?

  • The elections occur every 6 years.  It’s just bad timing.  Just to remind you, Mother Teresa also “stood down” for her reelection as well.

  • I hope the investigations turns up nothing and that the stepping down is age-related.
    In America an 84 year old would have been playing shuffle-board in Florida for nearly 20 years…….perhaps Father has demonstrated by his long years of work that this life is about service and that rest will only truly come in the next. ….a notion lost to our false “retirement/self pleasure time” mentality.

  • The Berry/Renner book Vows of Silence shows that LC is either covering up great evil or at least very stupidly giving the appearance of covering it up.

    It’s like the “Unfit For Command” book—how can all those people go on the record with the authors and all of them be lying?

  • I would guess Fr Maciel was “kicked upstairs”.  To a bureaucracy, innocence or guilt is almost irrelevant compared to bad publicity.  It is one more thing for him to offer up.  And it is only a matter of time before more “victims” come out of the woodwork and accuse his successor of similar crimes.  That is what “victims” do.  Would that Bishop Hubbard of Albany, among so many others, had a fraction of Fr. Maciel’s piety.

  • The timing may or may not be significant. The Father General of a religious order is usually elected for a set number of years (except for the Jesuits, where it is for life). Some orders have restrictions on the number of consecutive terms a Father General may serve. Others do not.

    The Legion, apparently, does not. Per their spokesman, they serve 12-year terms and Macielul members of the order. In that context, I believe his decision to resign was the right one.   

  • In Fr. Maciel’s favor, I would note that Archbishop Pell stepped down when he was under investigation, even though he was found not to be guilty and so must have known of his own innocence when he stepped down.

    It makes a headline case to accuse the General of the Legionnaries of sexual abuse.  It makes a last-page story down in the bottom right corner to accuse an 84-year-old retired priest of sexual abuse.  The weight of sympathy falls on the “old man” in the second situation.

    Having said that, I would also say that I agree with Patrick after reading the book.

  • GOR has a very good point because there are many earnest young members of LC and Regnum Christi in this area.  The order itself has done us much good, regardless of these accusations. 

    It’s too bad all this is casting a shadow over them, even if Maciel did do something…and I have no idea whether he did or not.

  • Dom:

    Thank you for your post.

    In a previous thread on this matter you accused me of being a secret agent for LC. Apparently this was becasue I referred you to an article by Father John Neuhaus that defended Father Marciel against accusations of purported sexual misconduct. Also becasue I questioned the truthfulness of Father Marciel’s Marciel’s. Their accusations strike me not only as baseless but as stupid.

    Since then I have taken time out from my job as a secret agent for the Knights Templar to read a little more about the subject. I have discovered some intersting things.

    First, I can find no evidence that there is an investigation of Father Marciel by the Vatican or anyone other authority into his purported sexual misconduct or for any other purported misconduct.

    Second, The LC alleges that they have not been notfied of an investigation by the Vatican into Father Marciel’‘s purported misconduct. It is my impression that under Canon Law if the Vatican was investigating Father Marciel then it would have to provide him with a copy of the accusations, a copy of the “proofs”, an advocate and an opportunity to defend himself. There is no evidence that this has happened.

    Third, the claims that the Vatican has re-opened an investigation into Father Marciel’s case comes from three very dubious sources:

    * Two journalists who write for the Hartford Courant – an old foe of the Faith. They have made a career of attacking Catholicism, John Paul II, Father Marciel and the LC.

    * A Canon Lawyer who alleges that she represents one or more of Father Marciel’s purported victims. She herself does not actually claim that the Vatican has re-opened an inevstigation.

    * One of the purported victims who, apparently has aligned himself with Catholics for a Free Choice and the culture of death crowd; and has a long hostory of axe grinding with the Church and the LC.

    Finally if Father Marciel was a pervert who, as you suggest, exerted some type of mind control over his young subordinates – so much so that they would lie under oath to Vatican investigators about Father Marciel’s purported miscinduct and at the time the purproted crimes were taking place then, in my opinion, the LC should be full of perverts formed by Father Marciel.

    I cannot find any other allegations against LC prients or Opus Die priests or any of the other young, dynamic orders who form their members to be virile, chaste and holy priets. By thier fruits you shall know them.

    Sadly I can find plenty of cases of sexual misconduct against older orders who have rebeled against orthodoxy and who have also turn a blind eye to sodomy within their ranks.

    The story here is that the news is being manipulated to defame an elderly priest who has been publicly and repeatedly prasied by Pope John Paul for leading a holy life and for forming other priests who are leading holy lives.

    We must all gaurd against rash judgement – I more than anyone. If I have offended you in any way please forgive me. I again call upon you as an honorable Catholic jounalists to look into this matter more closely.

    Thank you for your attention to this matter.

    God Bless


  • Jan 7 05 NCR


    A canon lawyer representing eight former members of the Legionaries of Christ who filed pedophilia charges in 1998 against the order?s founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, recently informed the men that a Vatican prosecutor has agreed to reopen the dormant case.

    Martha Wegan, a canonist who works at the Holy See, informed Arturo Jurado and Josle.

    Perhaps this is why God is scourging and judging the church: not only to remove such men but also to force a change in a governing structure besotted with institutional arrogance.

  • Richard, I had the same reaction as Dom to your first post de. But obviously you did.

    I doning which only serves to add scandal where there may be none.  (How’s that for a run-on sentence?)  To speculate (for that is what it is) that because Maciel declined the reelection implies guilt is sheer gossip mongering.  Just the facts ma’am or er sir.  I enjoy reading this blog, however, I find in blogdom that we are all easily tempted to indulge in gossip which last time I checked is still a sin against the 8th commandment: Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor.  Once a person admits guilt or is found guilty, that is fact and may be reported. 
      To report Fr. Maciel’s desire to resign is fair.  To then raise the eyebrow and speculate is unfair.  It seems to me that Richard is simply trying to balance the scale where he finds an individual under attack.  An individual whose life work has born good fruit and has served the church well.  So until proven otherwise Richard has every right to assume the best.  We should follow suit.
      Now that does not mean we hide our heads in the sand.  I’m well aware of the heinousness of the scandals and have been touched personally by them (but not myself abused thank God). 
      My point is that we seem so quick to believe the accusers and almost gleeful about finding another “rotten” priest.  When we take that attitude then Satan has already won our hearts.  He has already filled our souls with cynicism and separated us from our priests. 
      Dom you said anybody is capable of anything.  I disagree.  Some people are capable of terrible things but others are pretty darn unlikely of committing terrible things.  And in this country you are still supposed to be considered innocent until proven guilty – unless you happen to be a priest.
    Usually lurking,

  • GOR:

    Thank you for your post to me.

    I solemnly assue you that I am not now nor ever have been a member of LC nor have I ever knowingly been in communication with a LC member.

    In my line of work if your integrity is questioned offering a properly executed affidavit is the norm. If I lie in a sworn affidaivt then I make myself vulnerable to serious legal penalties.

    Normally in my experience a reasonable person will either accept the facts sworn to in an affidaivit or pursue a legal avenue of redress.

    My offer of an affidavit was both sincere and a carry over from work.

    Also in my line of work it is very important to be polite and respectful. For instance I usually reply to correspondence with a “thank you for your letter, e-mail etc”.

    I am being sincere. This manner of communication is my norm in part from work.

    I am also being sincere when I accuse the members group X of either being perjurers an cowards. It is not defamation to tell the truth. As I understand the facts the members of group X are self admitted perjurers. They now allege to have lied under oath about Father Marciel’s integrity in the 50’s.

    If they are now telling the truth, which I doubt, they are cowards. They waited about 50-years to blow the whistle. During that time, if they are telling the truth, then Father Marciel had the opportuntiy to purportedly molest countless victims.

    I grew up in institutions. I know of what I speak. If goup X is now telling the truth, which I strongly doubt, then in my opinion for waiting so long they belong in prision along with the purported pervert who molested them.

    I will remember you in my prayers.

    God bless


  • Only in a court of law are you required to presume innocence until guilt is proven. In general terms, if someone is accused of being molester but hasn’t his day in court yet, I’m not letting him near my nieces and nephews.

    See, this is what ticks me off about this whole conversation. The facts are that Maciel has been accused, that certain sources in the Vatican are saying that an investigation is ongoing, the founder of a major religious order has resigned, and an American archbishop has essentially snubbed the order in his diocese. That’s not just idle speculation; it’s a set of facts that require people serious about reform in the Church to deal with the problems.

    It is a perennial argument among blog-people that talking about the Scandal and the problems in the Church is a violation of the Eighth Commandment, especially since “we can’t do anything about it.”

    I happen to disagree. Others don’t. I have made it clear every time I’ve written about this case that I am not assuming Fr. Maciel’s guilt, but that the facts are such that we need to take it seriously. I think most people are tired of burying their heads in the sand and saying, “The bishops will take care of it.” We prefer to remain aware and involved as much as we can.

    Does anyone seriously believe that the Scandal would have been dealt with at all in the last three years if we’d had that attitude?

  • Richard, I have said that I donf examples of ones who did it for a period of time 20, 30 or more years ago and havenMaciel was an abuser, no one should then conclude that the Legion is rife with abusers. Bishops, Seminary Rectors and Religious Superiors have been abusers, but that didnwhat happened to him to others, to blame himself for what happened, to pretend it didn’t happen rather than deal with it. I do know of what I speak. Accuse me of otherwise again and I can assure you, you will be banned from this blog.

  • Mr. Bettinelli:

    Thank you for your post in which you wrote in part:

    “I didnmon and ethical way for any news story to begin.

    Prior in this thread you also posted in resposne to Maria:

    “It is a perennial argument among blog-people that talking about the Scandal and the problems in the Church is a violation of the Eighth Commandment, especially since t_author>
    2005-01-28 10:35:09
    2005-01-28 14:35:09
    Mr. Bettinelli:

    Thank you for your post in which you wrote in part:

    “Wegan is an on-the-record Vatican source because, as a Vatican canon lawyer, she is an official of the Vatican.”

    What is a Vatican canon lawyer as opposed to a canon lawyer? If Ms. Weagn is representing and speaking for the Vatican in this matter, which is purportedly investigating Father Marciel for purported sexual misconduct, how can she in justice also represent the men who are accusing Father Marciel of sexual misconduct?

    Also, based on my very limited knowledge of Canon Law, no matter which party she is representing, she cannot speak to reporters either on or off the record on this matter. In so doing she has made a case that due process, confidentiality and impartiality have been violated in this purported case.

    She may well have poisoned the well.

    If Father Marciel is a molester, which I very strongly doubt, and since the molesters seem to have cunning lawyers, I think that Ms. Wegan’s statement to the press will create grounds to challenge the purproted investigation of Father Marciel.

    In other words if Father Marciel is a molester, which I very strongly doubt, he will get a walk due in part to Ms. Wegan’s indiscretion.

    However Ms. Wegan is a trained lawyer. She knows this. She knows she is not supposed to talk to the press. She knows the importance under Canon Law of confidentiality and protecting the good names of all parties.

    I seriously doubt that Ms. Weagn is a Vatican canon lawyer in the sense she speaks for or represents the Vatican in this or any other matter.

    I suspect that she is only a Canon Lawyer for Father Marciel’s accusers who has deliberately spoken out of turn and in violation of Canon Law.

    In which case, if I am right, she is not a very reliable source for the case being purportedly re-opened.

    Thank you for your attention to my post.

    God bless



  • Wegan is an on-the-record Vatican source because, as a Vatican canon lawyer, she is an official of the, tends to sound like a cliche of denial. The fact is that personal holiness is a rare thing, indeed. It’s also a fact that very imperfect people will not go so low as to either sexually molest the innocent or cover up for those who do. It’s also an unfortunate fact that many of the bishops confronted with the perverse behavior of their clerical subordinates chose to ignore it and to intimidate those who brought it to their attention. Otherwise, why did it take the tender mercies of the secular press to force change—change that the bishops, by their behavior at their 2002 meeting in Dallas, did not want to make?

    Institutional and bureucratic remedies might not solve all (or even most) problems. But it’s clear that, in this case, the hierarchy is isolated from the people it claims to serve (as well as from God) and behaves as if the only appropriate response to anything it does is blind deference. It’s also clear that this pope has been reluctant to discipline misfeasant bishops, whether related to this scandal or not. Those actions inevitably result from a system in which accountability and transparency are discouraged. If the church instituted effective mechanisms to hold its authorities accountable, a lot of pain and suffering (even death, since some abuse victims committed suicide) would have been avoided.

    Remember Madison’s quotes, Richard. Men are not angels. No about of personal holiness will compensate for the schemes of the evil. The evil must be isolated and prevented from harming the innocent and the church as a whole. The church, so far, has done an absolutely miserable job of doing just that.

  • Dom,
    I have no intention of getting involved with this thing you’ve got going with Richard, so I’m going to drop this into the pot and run like you know what.

    John L Allen of NCR writes today,

    “Speaking of the sexual abuse crisis, when Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado declined reelection on Jan. 20 as head of the Legionaries of Christ, some observers concluded he did so to avoid sex abuse charges directed against him by several former members, or that he acted under Vatican pressure.

    Just yesterday, however, the Vaticant>
    2005-01-28 16:48:46
    2005-01-28 20:48:46
    What is imprudent about pointing out that at least three major news sources are saying that the Vatican has opened an investigation? What is indiscrete about it?

  • Perhaps there’s another reason why the Vatican is investigating Fr. Maciel now.

    As you are all aware, this pope has “streamlined” (to put it diplomatically) the procedure for canonizing saints. Since Escriva, the Opus Dei founder, was canonized, it would seem logical that Legionaires would want Maciel canonized, no? After all, even the canonization process has its unseemly political aspects, with various interests using it to vie for the papal favor and patronage that would give them credibility.

    And, since the whole “Devil’s Advocate” process seems to have gone the way of the Model T and the rotary phone, the institutionalized church has to cover itself somehow, particularly when a possible candidate for sainthood has charges of sexual abuse thrown at him.

  • Dear Dom,

      I think that you have handled the Maciel affair quite well. You simply provided people with information without drawing any definitive conclusions. You are a blogger. You are supposed to present information. Keep us informed about the Maciel matter. I hope he is innocent as well, but I also think there should be a complete investigation.

  • As in my last post, the issue is not that you reported an investigation from the vatican.  I never posted when you reported that.  My issue was with your report of Fr. Maciel’s resignation and then extrapolation from there.

    Perhaps my real question is the role of blogging in general.  Blogging tends to thrive on gossip, no?  Am I making a leap here?  And I’m beginning to question it.  But that’s a topic for a whole new thread.  Just your luck I happened to bring it up on your blog.


  • Yes, Denny, correct.  That’s the problem—if they take away the old safe-guards, now we begin to wonder if it is possible to canonize someone only to find out later——-EEK.

    Safeguards like the devil’s advocate, the extra miracle, the delay in time are important.  I think the delay in time is very, very important myself. 

    I think if a person is holy enough to be a saint, the canonization can wait because it won’t go away.  I don’t think there should be any rush whatsoever.  A real saint should be remembered as one 80, 90, 150 years after their passing and more.  If they don’t pass that criteria, maybe they’re a saint who doesn’t get canonized, or maybe they just were more ordinary than people thought at the time—charismatic or timely or something.