May 20, 2006

'He was acting as if he was getting revenge on God'

The Age

By Alistair Bell, Mexico City
May 21, 2006

THE founder of a powerful Catholic order disciplined by the Pope is a charismatic charmer who sexually abused trainee priests to get "revenge on God" for having been abused himself as a child, a victim has said.

Jose Barba (pictured above), now a Mexican university professor, said he was abused by Marcial Maciel in the early 1950s when, aged 16, he was studying for the priesthood in Rome.

"He asked me to give him a massage but it was masturbation. He said the Pope gave permission for that kind of thing," Professor Barba, 68, said. Other abuses followed, he said.

The censure of Maciel was Pope Benedict's first major decision involving sexual abuse charges since his election last year, and raised eyebrows because the conservative order had found favour under the late Pope John Paul.

Begun by Maciel in 1941, the Legionaries of Christ has about 600 priests and 2500 seminarians in more than 20 countries. It also runs a major pontifical university in Rome.

Posted by kshaw at May 20, 2006 11:45 AM