January 03, 2005

Vatican Revisits Abuse Charges

Hartford Courant

January 3, 2005
By GERALD RENNER, Special to The Courant

The Vatican has reopened an investigation into charges first reported nearly eight years ago that a powerful Mexican priest close to the pope sexually abused seminarians.

The allegations focus on the actions of the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, now 84 and based in Rome. He leads a religious order known as the Legionaries of Christ, which claims 600 priests in 18 countries. Its U.S. headquarters is in Orange and it has a seminary in Cheshire.

The allegations surfaced in a Courant report in February 1997. Nine former members of the Legion said Maciel first abused them years ago when they were young boys or teenagers, ages 10 to 16, in seminaries in Spain and Italy.

The accusers, all professional men - two Mexican-Americans, five Mexicans and two Spaniards, one now deceased - tried for years to call their accusations to the attention of Pope John Paul II, who nonetheless has remained effusive in his praise of Maciel. Just five weeks ago, on Nov. 27, the pope praised Maciel in a letter on the 60th anniversary of his priestly ordination, citing his "intense, generous and fruitful priestly ministry."

A week later, the complainants against Maciel were told the Vatican was reopening a canon law investigation that had been squelched without explanation in 1999.

Posted by kshaw at January 3, 2005 08:01 AM