Rome, Italy, Mar 26, 2010 / 12:11 pm
In a communique released on Thursday, the top leaders of the Legionaries of Christ acknowledged and asked forgiveness for the “reprehensible actions” of their founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel. Jim Fair, communications director for the Legion, told CNA on Friday that the communique was issued during the territorial directors annual meeting in Rome after a discussion on the current state and future of the order.
The March 25 statement's recognition of the allegations against the order's founder comes nearly four years after the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith completed a canonical investigation in 2006. Though the scandals surrounding Fr. Maciel have been alluded to by leaders within the movement in previous documents, homilies and conferences, the recent statement is the first one to be jointly written and signed by the all the territorial directors of the movement.
“We had thought and hoped that the accusations brought against our founder were false and unfounded, since they conflicted with our experience of him personally and his work,” reads Thursday's statement. “However, on May 19, 2006, the Holy See’s Press Office issued a communique as the conclusion of a canonical investigation that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) had begun in 2004.”
“At that time, the CDF reached sufficient moral certainty to impose serious canonical sanctions related to the accusations made against Fr Maciel, which included the sexual abuse of minor seminarians. Therefore, though it causes us consternation, we have to say that these acts did take place.”