The Legion of Christ was long the subject of critical reports and rumors before it was rocked by Vatican acknowledgment that its founder lived a double life, sexually abused seminarians, and fathered children.
The Legion initially denied allegations against Maciel, until the Vatican determined that the accusations were accurate, and the organization issued an apology in 2014.
The eight signatories of the March 26 letter called on the Legion to recognize openly that they had suffered abuse from Maciel, and that the organization's response after they initially publicized their allegations had caused "moral, psychological and spiritual harm" to them "in a continued, consistent and prolonged way," the AP reported. They asked the Legion to formally recognize that victims' reports about being abused were acts of service to the Church, not betrayals of the Legion.
In 2006 the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, with the approval of Pope Benedict XVI, removed Maciel from public ministry and ordered him to spend the rest of his life in prayer and penance. The congregation decided not to subject him to a canonical process because of his advanced age. Maciel died in 2008.
Benedict began a process of reform for the Legion of Christ, a process continued under Pope Francis. Included in that reform process was the establishment of a compensation commission, which was active from 2011-2014 and gave an undisclosed sum to 12 people, the AP reports.
The eight signatories in their letter ask for this commission to be re-formed to hear their cases. Signatory Jose Barna said he did not approach the original commission because he did not trust it, but that he now believes the effort "is worthwhile, because we have suffered for a quarter-century many humiliations, many defamations nationally and internationally," according to the Associated Press.