May 31, 2005

Maciel scandal won't go away


Issue Date: June 3, 2005

Maciel scandal won't go away

If Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the religious order the Legionaries of Christ, were a priest in the United States, he would not be permitted in active ministry.

Some may not consider the U.S. norms ideal, but the crisis caused by the sex abuse scandal and the concomitant crisis of authority in the church demand bold and determined measures. Few cases have generated the notoriety and challenge to the church’s integrity and credibility that the Maciel case has. Maciel was warmly praised by the late Pope John Paul II and, by all accounts, was able to raise enormous amounts of money that have gone to establishing a religious empire in a short time.

Clergy sex abuse victims the world over who have heard pious words and statements of resolve from the hierarchy were waiting to see if the church at the highest levels would discontinue the practice of protecting priests at all costs and do a thorough investigation of the charges against Maciel, as well as a thorough accounting of its findings.

So, when the news reports said that the Vatican had apparently dropped the investigation, had not launched a formal canonical procedure in response to allegations, and that it had no plans to do so, many saw the development as a stinging disappointment. The announcement raised far more questions than it answered. The lack of resolution to the case eventually could be far more damaging to the church’s credibility than the jolt of bad news that might issue from a thorough airing of the case against Maciel.

As it turns out, however, the real problem may not be any decision by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, but rather papal palace intrigue involving an old friend of Maciel and the willingness of the Legionaries to mislead the world and allow the misconception to stand until a reporter happened to ask the right question of the right person.

Posted by kshaw at May 31, 2005 01:48 PM