The late Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, the venerated and vilified founder of the powerful conservative Catholic order, the Legionaries of Christ, may have been a father in the biological as well. At American Papist, Thomas Peters confirms rumors circulating in recent days of scandalous news coming down the pipe about a prominent Catholic.
It’s hard to see how Maciel, who died in January 2008 after being disciplined by Pope Benedict in 2006, could become more controversial. Maciel was accused of being an almost cult-like leader of the insular community he founded, and so great was his influence in Rome (he is shown here in a New York Times photo with the late John Paul II, who greatly admired Maciel) that persistent reports of his sexual abuse of seminarians were ignored. But Benedict, to his credit, allowed the victims to have their say, leading to the 2006 disgrace–which some say still amounted to no more than a slap on the wrist.
Now it turns out Maciel may have fathered at least one child, a woman now in her early 20’s, and may have illicitly used funds to support his family and a “double life.”
Some will shake their heads and say, well, he certainly got around. But if this leads the Legionaries to renounce Maciel as the “spiritual founder” who continues to guide and shape the order post-mortem, then it could be a true catharsis that could lead to an LofC that is more integrated into the Church. That certainly seems to be Benedict’s goal with the movements, and the Legionaries–he had already forced them to give up the secret, private vow Maciel had new members take.
And Baltimore Archbishop Edwin O’Brien has also put the LoC on a leash.