The Legionaries of Christ released two statements today responding to the dramatic revelations by a woman and her three sons who claim to be the wife and children of Fr. Marcial Maciel. During an interview in front of a large television audience in Mexico, Blanca Estela Lara Gutiérrez and her sons charged that Fr. Maciel, the founder of the Legion of Christ, led a parallel life.
The interview coincided with a visit to Mexico made by Father Álvaro Corcuera L.C., currently the director of the Legion of Christ.
During the interview, Lara Gutiérrez said that she met Fr. Maciel in 1970, when she was 19 years old. Maciel was 56 at the time. He told her that his name was “Raúl Rivas” and that he was a widower.
Though they never officially married, Lara Gutiérrez said that Fr. Maciel had two children her and adopted a third whom she had from a previous relationship. The children were registered as Omar, José Raúl, y Cristian González Lara.
During the long interview, which was rebroadcast in Spanish on Thursday by CNN for viewers in Latin America, the three children gave intensely dramatic details about how they were sexually abused as children by “Raúl Rivas.” They also spoke of how they came to know their father’s real identity and how they reacted to the accusations presented to the Holy See against Fr. Maciel.
At the end of the program, the González Lara family demanded the attention both of the Legionaries and of the Vatican.
In reaction to the interview, Jim Fair, spokesman for the Legion in the United States told CNA that he was “shocked and disappointed. But the Legion wants to act responsibly, get to the bottom of things and correct what needs to be corrected.”
On Thursday, the Legion of Christ in Mexico released two simultaneous statements through which they expressed their pain and solidarity with Fr. Maciel’s alleged family, though they neither confirmed nor denied the allegations. The statements also revealed that Raúl González, who has been acting as the spokesperson for the family, has previously requested $26 million from the Legion in exchange for not breaking the story.
The first statement said that the Legionaries “share the suffering and pain of the members of the González Lara family, understanding the difficult circumstances they have lived and are living.”
“In recent years, the Legionaries of Christ have gradually come to know, with surprise and great sorrow, hidden aspects of the life of Fr. Maciel. We confirm our commitment to act in truth and charity. We renew our request for forgiveness from the affected people for all of the suffering this has caused and for the ensuing scandal,” added the statement.
The same statement made public a letter that Fr. Carlos Skertchly, L.C. wrote to Raúl González Lara on January 12, 2010.
“At this time, it is impossible for Fr. Álvaro Corcuera to come to Mexico to meet with you as you requested, so he asked me as his representative to be available to meet with you and listen to you,” Fr. Skertchly informed him in the letter.
“Our intention as members of the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ is to do whatever is possible to uncover the truth about our founder’s life, to look for the best solutions—in a spirit of gospel charity—to the complex situations that are presenting themselves, and to reach out pastorally to all of the people who have suffered or who may be affected by it.”
Fr. Skertchly also recounted his interaction with Raúl González Lara, writing, “On January 8 in the afternoon, I received your phone call, in which you confirmed your request, affirming that ‘if you give me the money ($26 million), I will keep quiet about the truth,’ and you asked for a response by January 13 at the latest,” the letter continues.
“In no way can we accede to your request for money in exchange for silence. While we value all of the pain and suffering that you have shared with us, and we deplore the evil of scandal that may follow, we will never accept petitions of this sort, which are also illicit. We prefer to seek and face the truth, no matter how painful it may be,” affirmed Fr. Skertchly.
In the second statement, Fr. Jesús Quirce Andrés, L.C., rector of Anáhuac University, who was mentioned by the González Lara family in the interview, stated that he been involved in conversations with Raúl González at Gonzalez’s request beginning on April 18, 2008. Raúl had presented himself to the university, requesting to speak “with someone in authority.”
“At the beginning of October of 2008, he told me that his father had mentioned that his will was to leave a legacy of $6 million for Raúl, his younger brother, and his mother,” said Fr. Andrés.
“He never told me that he had been abused by his father,” says Fr. Andrés’ statement, in which he indicated that he “had never made these facts public out of respect for the privacy that Raúl himself requested of me on various occasions.”
“I was ignorant of the fact that our conversations had been recorded by Raúl. It surprises and offends me, especially since Raúl himself had asked for complete reserve and discretion regarding the topic,” wrote Fr. Andrés.
Raúl González ceased all personal contact with Fr. Andrés in February of 2009.