May 20, 2006

Legionaries of Christ Founder Falls from Grace


Diego Cevallos

MEXICO CITY, May 19 (IPS) - It took the Catholic Church more than half a century to acknowledge the numerous allegations of sexual abuse against the leader of a conservative order founded in Mexico, the Legionaries of Christ. But the Vatican, which has frequently praised Father Marcial Maciel over the years, finally decided to punish him.

However, he will not be brought to justice by the courts.

Maciel, who for decades has denied charges that he molested former students for the priesthood in the seminaries run by the order, "deserves criminal punishment, rather than this mild decision by the Church," Joaquín Aguilar, Mexico director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), told IPS.

On Friday, the Vatican reported that it had "invited" the 86-year-old Maciel to "a life reserved to prayer and penitence, renouncing any public ministry." The decision, which was approved by Pope Benedict, was taken after a Church carried out a probe into the accusations voiced by a number of former seminarians.

Although Maciel will not undergo a church trial, he can no longer celebrate mass or give speeches or interviews.

Posted by kshaw at May 20, 2006 10:31 AM