.- The vicar general of the Legion of Christ is stepping down from his post. Instead, Fr. Luis Garza will now run the organization in North America.
“America and Canada are countries that I have always admired and I am humbled to serve as territorial director of the united territory,” said Fr. Garza in a statement issued to media July 15.
Only last month Fr. Garza told CNA that he had no intention of stepping down from his post as vicar general – essentially second-in-command of the Legion. Instead, he hinted that there may be a general turnover of the organization’s leadership after their next General Chapter meeting.
Today’s news comes as the Vatican is reviewing both the purpose and constitution of the Legion. That process is being headed up by the Italian cleric, Cardinal Velasio De Paolis.
The cardinal was appointed as "papal delegate" last year after a Vatican investigation condemned the late founder of the congregation, Fr. Marcial Maciel, as a being guilty of “serious and objectively immoral behavior” as well as “real crimes.”
Fr. Maciel had sexually abused seminarians over many years and fathered several children with different women. He died in 2008, aged 87. The Vatican report summed up his life as “devoid of scruples and of genuine religious feeling.”
“We are working together to face the challenges for our communities and our apostolates around the world, and with particular intensity in the United States and Canada,” said Fr. Alvaro Corcuera, the general director of the Legion.
“We must lay more solid foundations on which to build and re-launch our service to the Church in those countries.”
And so the Legion’s activities in North America that were previously split into two territories – New York and Atlanta – will now merge into one with Fr. Garza at the helm.
“In the consultation, various candidates were considered for the new position. Although both of the current territorial directors have done an extraordinary job, there was broad consensus in favor of Fr. Luis Garza,” said Fr. Corcuera.
Fr. Garza is originally from Monterrey in Mexico. He joined the Legion of Christ in 1978 and was ordained a priest in 1985. He has been vicar general of the Legion since 1992. His critics have suggested he must have been aware of Fr. Maciel’s misdeeds, a charge Fr. Garza has always denied.
He will take up his new post on August 1.