Legion reacts to ‘slanderous publication’ in Spanish newspaper

.- Responding to allegations made in an interview published yesterday by the Spanish newspaper, El Mundo, the regional director of the Legionaries of Christ in Spain, Father María Jesús Delgado, has sent a letter to the paper's editor, calling for a correction to be published. The interview, which was printed in a supplement entitled, “Chronicle of the Legionaries of Christ,” was incorrect in more than one respect, claims the Legionary.

An article by reporter Idoia Sota, which appeared in the supplement, claimed that an Italian villa in Termini, Palermo, which is owned by the Legion, was purchased from a Mafia mobster. However, Fr. Delgado notes, “The villa that [the Legion] owns in Termini, Palermo' and 'bought from a mobster' was actually an old abandoned hotel, located near Naples, 400 km (almost 250 miles) from Palermo (Sicily), and was not sold by a mobster."

The article also cited the book, “The Illusionist,” which describes alleged murders committed by Fr. Maciel. These allegations are “equally untrue and even more serious,” writes Fr. Delgado. “For example, the author of the book mentioned by Sota claims that Father Maciel killed ‘Father Yepes Javier Orozco’ by dumping him on a road in coastal France. In fact, Father Francisco Orozco Yepez (Sota even got the name wrong!) died swimming in the sea on a beach near Rapallo (Genoa, Italy) while Fr. Maciel was in Rome."

Fr. Delgado also expresses outrage at what Sota described as “the plot by Legionary superiors to poison Father Maciel and to hire detectives.” Such a statement is the “accusation of a crime,” writes the Spanish priest. “I ask Ms. Sota that if she has evidence, to immediately turn it over to authorities for prosecution. And if she does not know, how is it that she dares to make unsubstantiated allegations of this magnitude?”

Fr. Delgado also responds the claim that Legionary priests had hired detectives, saying “while that is no crime, I can say that is absolutely false."

"Mr. Editor, you will agree with me that the verification of facts is an inescapable duty of journalism,” says Fr. Delgado. “The verification of sources and facts, which has not occurred in this case, was particularly necessary when talking about people who have a special responsibility for the management of ecclesial organizations, who are honorable, and whose reputation must not be questioned without evidence,” Father Delgado emphasized.

“As a religious congregation of the Catholic Church,” Father Delgado said, “I can assure you that we are acting, and will act, with the utmost awareness of our mission to serve men and to responsibly fulfill our civil and ecclesial duties in the management of our institutions.”

"We will soon discuss with our attorneys if such responsible management also demands that we take legal action against slanderous publications such as this article," he added.

“There is no doubt the lamentable events, which we have recently reported about the life of our founder, are grotesque,” Fr. Delgado said. “However, we are also determined to deal decisively with this reality and in close collaboration with the Holy See (see our statement of March 25, 2010).

“We look to the future with great confidence. I have no doubt about what our task is: to build our lives on the rock of Peter, with the strength of the Risen Christ and the help of many people of good will."

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