January 10, 2005

Vatican probe involves area religious order

New Haven Register

Associated Press 01/10/2005

HARTFORD ó The Vatican has reopened an investigation into charges 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 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.

In 1997, the Rev. Felix Alarcon, one of the accusers, said, "Nothing ever came of it (the accusation). Itís amazing Ö there are big people in Rome who are avoiding this." Alarcon had opened the legionís first U.S. base in Connecticut.

Maciel and the legionaries of Christ have vigorously denied the allegations of abuse. Maciel has accused the nine men of a conspiracy to defame him.

Posted by kshaw at January 10, 2005 08:03 AM