May 20, 2006

Pope decisive on delicate issue

The Detroit News

Rachel Zoll / By Ian Fisher and Laurie Goodstein New York Times

ROME -- The Vatican announced Friday that it had disciplined the most prominent priest to be accused of sexual abuse, taking a step that Pope John Paul II had long resisted.

Without addressing specific allegations, the Vatican statement said the priest, the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, 86, the founder of the conservative Legionaries of Christ, had been asked to give up his public ministry in favor of a quiet life of "prayer and penitence."

But in veering so close to a finding of guilt, the decision was widely seen as a defining moment for Pope Benedict XVI on a delicate issue for the Roman Catholic Church.

The statement said that Maciel, who started the order in Mexico, would be spared an ecclesiastical trial because of his "advanced age" and "weak health." The Vatican did not disclose the allegations, but at least nine men have accused him of molesting them as youthful seminarians. The case against Maciel had been building for years, with no official response from Vatican leaders.

Posted by kshaw at May 20, 2006 07:20 AM