May 24, 2005

Vatican Quietly Scuttles Abuse Probe

Hartford Courant

May 24, 2005
By GERALD RENNER, Special To The Courant

The Vatican announcement that no action will be taken against the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, a conservative religious order, has stunned those who accuse him of having sexually abused young seminarians in his charge years ago.

The decision announced by the Vatican Press Office short-circuits normal church procedures to reach a resolution in the case against the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado.

Neither the men making the accusations nor their canon lawyer in Rome had been told of the decision as of Monday, said one of the accusers, Juan Vaca, of Holbrooke, N.Y., a former Legionary priest who once headed the order in the United States.

Vaca, now an adjunct professor of psychology and sociology at Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., said he felt betrayed. "I am more than upset," he said. "I've lost all faith in the church."

Maciel, 85, the Mexican founder and recently retired head of the Legionaries of Christ, recently was the subject of an intense preliminary investigation by a high-level Vatican agency known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.

The case against Maciel gained wider attention when Ratzinger became pope. As a cardinal, Ratzinger had been in charge of handling sexual abuse allegations, and observers were looking to this case as a test of how seriously the Vatican will pursue allegations such as those that have roiled the church in America.

Posted by kshaw at May 24, 2005 08:29 PM