Responding to unconfirmed revelations of misconduct by the Legionaries of Christ Founder Fr. Marcial Maciel, the U.S. spokesman for the Legionaries of Christ has acknowledged unspecified actions that “weren’t appropriate for a Catholic priest.” However, he insisted that Fr. Maciel “was and always will be the father of the Legion.”
The blog “Exlcblog” claimed that Fr. Scott Reilly, the Legionaries of Christ Territorial Director in Atlanta, Georgia announced to those in the Territorial Direction that Fr. Maciel had a mistress, fathered a child, and lived a double life. The blog claimed that the Legionaries of Christ is therefore renouncing Father Maciel as their spiritual father.
CNA contacted Legionaries of Christ spokesman Jim Fair, but received no specific confirmation of any allegations.
“We’ve learned some things about our founder’s life that are surprising and difficult to understand,” Fair told CNA on Tuesday.
“We can confirm that there are aspects of his life that weren’t appropriate for a Catholic priest.
“Obviously he had human failings but it remains true that through him we received our charism, which has been approved by the Church.
“Our commitment remains and we‘re going to go forward and love Christ and serve the Church,” he remarked.
Asked to verify the specific allegations, Fair replied:
“Fr. Maciel died over a year ago and obviously whatever has happened is between him and God and God’s judgment and mercy, so we’re going to let him take care of that.”
CNA asked Fair to verify whether the Legionaries of Christ were distributing information on the allegations through their regional directors.
“We communicate internally, but I can’t make any comment beyond that,” Fair replied.
“I know that there have been rumors about are we somehow denouncing him. Obviously we are not. Fr. Maciel was and always will be the father of the legion.
“One of the mysteries of our faith is that God sometimes works through flawed human beings.”
In 2006, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, citing Fr. Maciel’s advanced age and declining health, decided to forgo a hearing into allegations he sexually abused around 20 different teenage recruits to the Legionaries of Christ as far back as the 1980s. The Congregation invited Fr. Maciel “to a reserved life of penitence and prayer, relinquishing any form of public ministry.”
Fr. Maciel died on January 30, 2008.