BREAKING: Vatican investigating Legion of Christ priests for sexual abuse


The Vatican is investigating seven priests from the troubled Legion of Christ religious order for alleged sexual abuse of minors and another two for other alleged crimes, The Associated Press has learned.

The investigations mark the first known Vatican action against Legion priests for alleged sexual assault following the scandal of the Legion’s founder, who was long held up as a model by the Vatican despite credible accusations – later proven – that he raped and molested his seminarians.

The Legion, which is now under Vatican receivership, has insisted that the crimes of its late founder, the Rev. Marciel Maciel, were his alone.

But the Vatican investigation of other Legion priests indicates that the same culture of secrecy that Maciel created within the order to cover his crimes enabled other priests to abuse children – just as abusive clergy of other religious orders and dioceses have done around the world.

In a statement Friday to the AP, the Legion confirmed it had referred seven cases of alleged abuse to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office that investigates sex crimes. All but one involves alleged abuse dating from decades ago; one case involves recent events, the Legion said.

While the investigation is under way, the accused priests are being kept away from children, the Legion said.

“Over the past few years, in several countries, the major superiors of the Legion of Christ have received some allegations of gravely immoral acts and more serious offenses … committed by some Legionaries,” the statement said.

It said it was committed to examining the accusations and reaching out to victims while safeguarding the rights of all involved.

The Legion issued the statement to the AP after the news organization approached it with the allegations; the Legion simultaneously sent the statement out to all priests in the order.

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  1. Midwestlady says:

    There are a couple of these newer institutes whose founders have gotten into trouble with this sort of thing, of which this one is the largest. Religious societies have perennially tried to promote their founders as saints for many very good reasons, but chief among them is the fact that it lays a great foundation for a charism for the new society; indeed, it gives them a great boost into respectability and growth. Rather obviously, the opposite is also going to be true. A religious institute with a convicted founder is a pitiful, languishing, rootless thing, rehashing its existence at every turn.

    The Legionnaires of Christ, as an institute, is probably too big to receive the re-founding at the hands of an appointed replacement, as Miles Jesu, is receiving. And at any rate, that also can have dramatic and negative consequences, as we’ve seen with some of the women’s congregations of late. As much as the Holy See wants to see these new forms of religious life succeed, this one is probably too far gone to save. It needs to be suppressed.

  2. Diakonos09 says:

    One word says it all: supression.

  3. Exorcism would be a better word.

  4. I am wondering about the line “While the investigation is under way, the accused priests are being kept away from children, the Legion said.”

    Is it not normal to suspend them from public ministry entirely? The line seems to indicate they are still in ministry but just ministering to adults. Maybe I am reading too much into it but if that is the case then that would be a pretty significant difference from the way I understand these cases have been handled in the past.

  5. Barbara P. says:

    Interesting that you say that because I remember reading a report that Maciel refused the opportunity for confession and Anointing of the Sick on his death bed. I don’t know if the report is true. I cannot imagine any Catholic refusing these sacraments before death – especially a Catholic who was allegedly a priest and who allegedly committed such heinous acts. The report is disturbing to me.

  6. pagansister says:

    Will this ever end? Those men certainly took advantage of what was supposed to be a “trusted” person—a man “of the cloth” who is to lead and teach children about God and his love. RIGHT! What kind of “love’ did those guys show those children? Evil.

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