.- 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 GutiÃ©rrez 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 Ãlvaro Corcuera L.C., currently the director of the Legion of Christ.
During the interview, Lara GutiÃ©rrez 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 âRaÃºl Rivasâ and that he was a widower.
Though they never officially married, Lara GutiÃ©rrez 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, JosÃ© RaÃºl, y Cristian GonzÃ¡lez 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 âRaÃºl Rivas.â They also spoke of how they came to know their fatherâs real identity and how they reacted to the accusations presented to the Holy See against Fr. Maciel.
At the end of the program, the GonzÃ¡lez 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 âshocked and disappointed. But the Legion wants to act responsibly, get to the bottom of things and correct what needs to be corrected.â
On Thursday, the Legion of Christ in Mexico released two simultaneous statements through which they expressed their pain and solidarity with Fr. Macielâs alleged family, though they neither confirmed nor denied the allegations. The statements also revealed that RaÃºl GonzÃ¡lez, 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 âshare the suffering and pain of the members of the GonzÃ¡lez Lara family, understanding the difficult circumstances they have lived and are living.â
âIn 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,â added the statement.
The same statement made public a letter that Fr. Carlos Skertchly, L.C. wrote to RaÃºl GonzÃ¡lez Lara on January 12, 2010.
âAt this time, it is impossible for Fr. Ãlvaro 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,â Fr. Skertchly informed him in the letter.
âOur intention as members of the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ is to do whatever is possible to uncover the truth about our founderâs life, to look for the best solutionsâin a spirit of gospel charityâto 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.â
Fr. Skertchly also recounted his interaction with RaÃºl GonzÃ¡lez Lara, writing, âOn January 8 in the afternoon, I received your phone call, in which you confirmed your request, affirming that âif you give me the money ($26 million), I will keep quiet about the truth,â and you asked for a response by January 13 at the latest,â the letter continues.
âIn 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,â affirmed Fr. Skertchly.
In the second statement, Fr. JesÃºs Quirce AndrÃ©s, L.C., rector of AnÃ¡huac University, who was mentioned by the GonzÃ¡lez Lara family in the interview, stated that he been involved in conversations with RaÃºl GonzÃ¡lez at Gonzalezâs request beginning on April 18, 2008. RaÃºl had presented himself to the university, requesting to speak âwith someone in authority.â
âAt 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 RaÃºl, his younger brother, and his mother,â said Fr. AndrÃ©s.
âHe never told me that he had been abused by his father,â says Fr. AndrÃ©sâ statement, in which he indicated that he âhad never made these facts public out of respect for the privacy that RaÃºl himself requested of me on various occasions.â
âI was ignorant of the fact that our conversations had been recorded by RaÃºl. It surprises and offends me, especially since RaÃºl himself had asked for complete reserve and discretion regarding the topic,â wrote Fr. AndrÃ©s.
RaÃºl GonzÃ¡lez ceased all personal contact with Fr. AndrÃ©s in February of 2009.