The Holy See’s Saturday statement regarding the Legionaries of Christ is “extremely significant,” Vatican expert Sandro Magister says. In his view, Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez will likely be appointed the commissioner to rebuild the Legion.
The statement was issued at the conclusion of the Apostolic Visitation of the religious order founded by Fr. Marcial Maciel, whose behavior was described by the visitors as “extremely serious and objectively immoral,” in some cases criminal. His offenses in some cases depicted “a life devoid of scruples and of authentic religious sentiment,” the statement said.
The authors of the statement announced the appointment of a commissioner who will assume full powers in the phase of rebuilding the Legion. It is expected that Pope Benedict will appoint this commissioner before summer, according to Sandro Magister’s latest column.
The Archbishop of Guadalajara, Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez, is the only candidate mentioned so far and is seen as “very resolute and trustworthy,” Magister says.
The cardinal is titular archbishop of the church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Rome, which belongs to the Legionaries. However, Magister reports that he has “never gotten mixed up with them and their intrigues.”
The 77-year-old prelate is about to resign from his diocese because he is past retirement age and would be able to dedicate himself to the matter full time. A member of several Vatican congregations, he is also on the commission supervising Institute for Works of Religion.
As expected, the Vatican authorities’ statement also announced a supplemental apostolic visit concerning Regnum Christi, the Legionaries’ lay association also founded by Fr. Maciel.
Another provision emerging from recent discussion is the creation of an independent commission to study the Legion’s constitutions, particularly to “review the exercise of authority.”
Sandro Magister sees the latest statement as overturning the “dominant model” of recent media reporting on pedophilia.
“Instead of letting its agenda be dictated by the newspapers, instead of responding case by case to the deluge of accusations, this time the Holy See has taken the initiative,” he writes. In the case of the Legionaries, Magister says, the media will have to play “catch-up” with Vatican decisions, which are intended not only to punish but “above all to heal, reinforce, purify, reconstruct.”