Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado (March 10, 1920 to January 30, 2008) was a Mexican Catholic Priest who founded the Legion of Christ and the Regnum Christi movement.
Pope Benedict XVI disciplined him in 2006, inviting him to “a reserved life of prayer and penitence.” This was followed by Maciel’s resignation in January of 2006. He had been charged with incidents of pedophilia which he vehemently denied.
The Legionaries made the statement that he had “accepted the instruction with faith, total calm, with a clear conscience knowing that it is a new cross which God, merciful father, has allowed him to suffer”. The statement compared him to the falsely convicted Christ, and having pled his innocence he resolved himself to follow “the example of Jesus Christ, [and] decided not to defend himself in any way.”
Despite the mounting evidence the Legion and Regnum Christi members remained adament that their founder had been falsely maligned.
But among those charging him were an ex-priest and an active priest. Over a half-dozen men came forward and labeled him an abuser. I am sorry, I thought from the beginning there had to be some substance to their charges. But menton a word about this too his supporters and they were all over you.
Given the many testimonies of abuse and impropriety, even toward those who became priests, I was thankful that Pope Benedict XVI compelled Fr. Maciel to retreat to a life of prayer and penance. The latest news about his out-of-wedlock offspring (hija ilegítima) just compounds the scandal. Previously, there was a resistence among the Legionnaries to accept or even to investigate the charges against their founder. A number of purported victims claimed that this victimized them anew as liars or deviants. Yes, I believe there has to be a reckoning and probably a change from the manner in which the Legion of Christ usually operates. The criticisms of certain bishops and others may now be treated seriously. Among these concerns are the following: a general air of secrecy, a lack of cooperation with local parishes, the clandestine targeting of certain diocesan priests (usually young) for affiliation with them, and an overly rigid formation of seminarians and later priests that causes a dissolution of ties to family and former friends in favor of loyalty to the Legion. It is being argued that this systemic secrecy and control found in the Legionnaries may have found its initial source in the need to protect and enable the secret life of its founder. If that is true, the apple will have to be peeled to its core with the rotten pieces stripped away.
Let us pray for the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi.