Pope orders probe into conservative order: report
ROME (AFP) — Pope Benedict XVI has ordered a probe into the ultra-conservative Legionaries of Christ after allegations that the order’s late founder Marcial Maciel secretly fathered a child, the Zenit agency reported.
A team of bishops and priests will carry out the inquiry into the movement after reports that Maciel, who died in January 2008 aged 87, had fathered a daughter, the agency reported.
Benedict’s right-hand man, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, announced the decision in a letter which the movement published on its web site.
Maciel founded the Legionaries of Christ in 1941 in Mexico, where they are especially active.
The leadership recently admitted that Maciel, a cult figure among Legionaries, led a “double life” after the discovery of his liaison with the mother of his daughter.
At stake in the investigation is the significant estate that Maciel left behind, which his daughter could have a claim to.
Vatican to probe Catholic order
The Vatican disciplined Father Maciel in 2006 over sexual abuse allegations.
Father Maciel was banned from exercising his ministry in public and told to retire to a life of prayer and penitence, following allegations that he sexually abused about 30 boys and young men over a period of 30 years.
The priest – who founded the conservative order in 1941 – had always denied any wrongdoing.
It was not until after Father Maciel’s death that his secret life was revealed. In February, the order admitted that he had kept a mistress and fathered a daughter who was now in her 20s.
The disclosure caused consternation among the priests and laymen who are members of his religious congregation. They all take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
Father Maciel was close to the late Pope John Paul II.
The Legionaries of Christ order has about 600 priests and 2,500 seminarians, and says it has some 65,000 members around the world.
The Pope investigates hardline Catholic order
The Legionaries of Christ was much admired by the late Pope John Paul II for its conservative views, strict loyalty to Vatican teaching and success in enrolling recruits.
But the revelations about its founder having a sexual relationship with a woman, and fathering a daughter who now lives in Spain, have tarnished its reputation.
Its current head, Rev Alvaro Corcuera, said the Legionaries welcomed the Vatican visitation “with deep gratitude”.
He said the Pope had offered his support as the order faces “our present vicissitudes related to the grave facts in our father founder’s life.”
The Vatican spokesman, Rev Federico Lombardi, said the inspection was the process by which the Church obtained firsthand knowledge about a problem in an order, diocese or parish.
More sex abuses by Catholic order: Mexican victims
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Pope Benedict’s probe into an influential Roman Catholic priestly order could uncover more cases of sexual abuse similar to those committed by its founder, a victims’ group in Mexico said on Wednesday. […]
“We have testimonies that there have been other Legionaries who followed Maciel’s example,” said Jose Barba, the legal representative of eight former Legionaries who started court proceedings against Maciel in 1998. “The ramifications of the problem exist throughout the Legionaries of Christ,” he added.
Cardinal Bertone’s Letter to Legion of Christ
Álvaro Corcuera’s response