Vatican City, May 1, 2010 / 06:47 am America/Denver (CNA).
Apostolic Visitors to the Legion of Christ condemned the "very serious and objectively immoral acts" of its founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel, in a statement on Saturday. The results of meetings from the last two days include the call for a "profound revision" of the life and structure of the congregation.
The Holy See has released a statement from the meetings which took place between April 30 and May 1 at the Vatican. In addition to the five bishops involved in the Apostolic Visitation, the note recognizes that the Holy Father, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and three members of the Roman Curia were also involved in discussions.
The Visitors, reads the note, after an extensive investigation which took them to nearly every one of the religious order's houses, "have attested to having encountered a great number of exemplary, honest religious people, (who are) full of talent, many of whom are young, seek Christ with authentic zeal and offer their entire existence for the diffusion of the Kingdom of God."
However, the statement continues, the Visitors were "able to verify that the conduct of Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado caused serious consequences in the life and structure of the Legion, such that require a path of profound revision."
The "very serious and objectively immoral acts" of the late founder of the order, which were "confirmed by incontrovertible testimonies," represent "true crimes and manifest a life without scruples or authentic religious sentiment," the message states.
They acknowledge that "the great part of the Legionaries" had no knowledge of these facts because of Fr. Maciel's communications system and his ability to "create alibis, obtain trust, confidence and silence from those around him and reinforce his own role as charismatic founder."
The Visitors later observe that the "sincere zeal" of the majority of the members of the order and the appreciation of many for their good work propagated the belief that the accusations against the founder were nothing but "slander."