January 05, 2005

Vatican to reopen case against Maciel



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 José Barba of Mexico, and Juan Vaca, of Holbrook, N.Y., of the development in a Dec. 2 letter, barely a week after Pope John Paul II publicly praised Maciel and entrusted the Legion with the administration of Jerusalem’s Notre Dame Center.

“It seems to me that now the case is being taken seriously,” Wegan wrote.

Jurado, Barba and Vaca are three of the men who for years have tried to get the Vatican to take action against Maciel. Wegan, an Austrian national in Rome licensed to practice in church courts, told the three petitioners that Fr. Charles Scicluna, a canon lawyer working as promoter of justice at the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had asked if the men wished “to pursue the suit or not.”

“After we received the letter, I telephoned Martha Wegan and said that of course, we wished the case to move forward,” Barba, a professor of Latin American studies at Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de Mexico, told NCR in a telephone interview from Mexico City.

“I also told her that we would not be bound by silence,” added Barba -- referring to the congregation’s insistence in 1998, when the case was filed, that the men not speak publicly about it. They abided by the agreement until late 1999, when Wegan informed them that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the congregation, had tabled the case. Ratzinger later told a Mexican bishop that the charges created a “delicate” situation because Maciel in his view had done much good for the church (NCR, Dec. 7, 2001).

Posted by kshaw at January 5, 2005 05:24 PM