Responding to Vatican analyst Sandro Magister’s article on the leadership of the Legion of Christ, two prominent former members of the congregation told CNA on Wednesday that Fr. Luis Garza LC, current Vicar General of the Legion, should be regarded as part of the solution and not the problem.
Fr. Richard Gill and Fr. Thomas Berg, two high profile former Legionaries of Christ now working in the Archdiocese of New York, told CNA that Magister, in his reaction to the Legion of Christ's official admissions concerning Fr. Marcial Maciel's double life, “makes valid points about the likelihood the Holy See will need to remove the current major superiors and appoint a commissioner” in order to make “needed reforms” and “purge the Legion of any taint of the legacy of Maciel.”
“The current superiors,” the priests note, “whether they had prior knowledge of, or were complicit in any way with Maciel's crimes are certainly compromised by their closeness to him and their inability to be honest about, and take corrective steps concerning his scandalous life from the time it became indisputably clear in 2006.”
They note that moving forward for the Legion, “requires new leadership and a new start with a spirituality free from the influence of a man who may in fact be the most seriously disturbed major Catholic figure in the 20th century.”
Nevertheless, the two former Legionaries argue that Magister goes “well beyond the available evidence” when he suggests the Vicar General, Fr. Luis Garza, LC is “mastermind of an evil conspiracy to consolidate control."
“Our personal experience has been that Fr. Garza was candid and forthright from the beginning about the issues generated by the Maciel scandals. It was Garza who investigated Maciel once it began to appear to him the Vatican's 2006 censure of Maciel was well grounded and discovered the facts. Garza later put forth a program of openness and reform that was unfortunately rejected by the other major superiors, a program which, had it been implemented at the time, would have saved the Legion much of its current distress,” Fathers Gill and Berg say.
Magister also notes in his article that Garza “is the creator and absolute master” of the “holding company that acts as treasury and administrative center for all the works of the Legion in the world, with assets totaling an estimated 25 billion euros.”
The priests defend the Legion saying that “all religious orders have assets in real estate and investments, and some larger orders no doubt have assets in the many billions of dollars. Why should this be surprising?"
They add, “The task of any reporter who suspects foul play is to demonstrate that this wealth is somehow ill gotten or is being misused for purposes that do not further the mission of the Church.”
“A reporter should avoid innuendo that creates an impression unsupported by facts he can document,” Fathers Gill and Berg conclude.