Legionaries of Christ no longer promoting their founder

Fr. Alvaro Corcuera
Fr. Alvaro Corcuera


Under Vatican authorization, the head of the Legionaries of Christ announced that he is implementing new changes regarding their deceased founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel. The new norms include not celebrating his birthday, not selling his writings and removing his photos from group centers.

A statement on the Legionaries' website said that current leader, Fr. Alvaro Corcuera, issued the norms on Dec. 6 following the approval of Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, whom Pope Benedict charged with reforming the order last July.

The religious congregation and the lay movement, Regnum Christi, are working to recover from revelations that their founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel, sexually abused seminarians and fathered several children. The discovery led to questions – and an apostolic visitation of the Legion ordered by Pope Benedict – about whether the charism and formation process of the order were affected by the founder.

An apostolic visitation of Regnum Christi's consecrated lay members is ongoing and will conclude in June 2011.

New changes – which are the result of ongoing dialogue between the leaders of the religious order and lay movement – mandate that significant days related to Fr. Marciel's birth, baptism, and priestly ordination can no longer be celebrated by members.

The founder will also be referred to simply as “Fr. Maciel” instead of “Nuestro Padre” (our father) and his personal writings and talks will no longer be available for purchase at Legionary publishing houses or centers.

New norms also require that photos of Fr. Marciel either alone or with the Pope be removed from Legionary and Regnum Christi buildings.

Additionally, the norms state that the burial place of Fr. Maciel, located in the priest's native Cotija, Mexico, "will be given the value that pertains to any Christian burial place," and "will be treated as a place of prayer for the eternal repose of the deceased."

Fr. Corcuera noted that retreat centers in Cotija will continue offering the same services, but will also add a “place for prayer, reparation, and expiation.”

The statement emphasized that leaders should respect the “personal freedom” of group members and allow for individuals to  keep a photograph of the founder, read his writings, or listen to his talks. The content of Fr. Maciel's writings can also be used by members without citing the author.

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