May 20, 2006

Vatican Sanctions Accused Priest

ROME
Los Angeles Times

By Tracy Wilkinson, Times Staff Writer
May 20, 2006

ROME The Vatican announced Friday that it was disciplining the Mexican founder of an influential Roman Catholic order after an investigation into decades of allegations that the now elderly priest sexually abused seminarians and boys in his care.

Father Marcial Maciel appears to be the highest-ranking priest to be sanctioned in an abuse case. Maciel enjoyed protective support from the late Pope John Paul II for many years, but Pope Benedict XVI, in his first major decision in the church's sex abuse scandal, put aside his predecessor's wishes.

Maciel has denied the allegations, and his organization, the Legion of Christ, repeated that position Friday.

The Vatican said in a statement that Maciel, 86, had been instructed to refrain from all public ministries and to adopt a "life of prayer and penitence." The statement did not specify whether the charges were true, but experts said the Vatican's decision indicated that church investigators believed at least some of the accusations.

Posted by kshaw at May 20, 2006 07:33 AM