May 23, 2005

Vatican reportedly drops probe of Mexican cleric

Boston Globe

By Marion Lloyd, Globe Correspondent | May 23, 2005

MEXICO CITY -- The Mexican founder of the Legion of Christ, an influential Roman Catholic order, will not face a church trial on allegations that he sexually abused young seminarians in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, according to the Legion and news reports citing a Vatican spokesman.

In December, the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith opened a full-scale investigation into the allegations by eight former seminarians against the Rev. Marcial Maciel, the 85-year-old founder of the Legion of Christ. In April, a Catholic Church prosecutor, Charles J. Scicluna, traveled to the United States and Mexico to take testimony from dozens of former Legionaries, according to the co-accusers.

But on Friday, the Legion announced that it had been told by the Holy See that no charges would be brought against Maciel, adding that the priest ''unambiguously affirmed his innocence." A Vatican spokesman confirmed yesterday that the investigation had ended, and that there were no plans to reopen it, according to the Associated Press. Efforts by a Boston Globe reporter to obtain comment from the Vatican yesterday were unsuccessful.

''Father Maciel is exonerated, and the Holy See has found nothing upon which to begin any kind of canonical process," Jay Dunlap, the Legion's spokesman, said yesterday. He added that Maciel was ''just grateful for the victory of truth and to be able to get on with the business of his priesthood."

The news was met with skepticism by the co-accusers -- mostly Mexicans in their 60s and 70s -- whose meetings with Scicluna had raised their hopes that the case would go to trial before the Vatican's Tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Posted by kshaw at May 23, 2005 06:59 AM