May 09, 2005

On Broadway, dark thoughts and deeds in new dramas

Boston Globe

By Marion Lloyd, Globe Correspondent | May 9, 2005

MEXICO CITY -- It took more than 50 years, but eight former seminary students who say they were sexually abused by one of the most powerful men in the Roman Catholic Church are getting a hearing.

In December, the Vatican ordered a full investigation into charges by the former members of the Legion of Christ against the Rev. Marcial Maciel, the order's 85-year-old Mexican founder. And last month, Monsignor Charles J. Scicluna, the Catholic Church's promoter of justice of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, traveled to the United States and Mexico to collect testimony about Maciel from dozens of former Legionaries, according to four of the coaccusers.

The case, which dates to the 1940s, was reopened late last year by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who had shelved it five years earlier. Last month, Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI, succeeding John Paul II.

''I was very skeptical before," said Alejandro Espinosa, a 67-year-old rancher and former seminarian who said he was forced to perform sexual acts on Maciel in the 1950s. In 2002, frustrated with the lack of a Vatican investigation into the men's allegations, Espinosa published ''The Legion," a book in which he relates the alleged abuse in graphic detail. He said he received death threats after the book came out.

Espinosa said, however, that he has new hope of finding justice in the case after his three-hour interview with Scicluna in early April. ''Now, if I'm not totally convinced, I think there is an 85 percent chance that they will find Maciel guilty," Espinosa said in a recent telephone interview from his home in northern Tamaulipas State.

Posted by kshaw at May 9, 2005 07:15 AM