Pope: Investigate the Legionaries of Christ

The Vatican has officially launched an investigation of the Legionaries of Christ, the controversial, scandal-ridden order whose late founder, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, was last year found to have fathered a child out of wedlock. He is also suspected of sexually abusing seminarians and financial misdeeds and various other sins, all of which have profoundly tarnished what was once one of the most powerful “brands” in ultra-orthodox Catholicism.

The news emerged on the Legion’s own site, which posts the letter from Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.


John Thavis of CNS writes from Rome:

The announcement of the unusual investigation was posted on the Web site of the Legionaries of Christ March 31, along with the text of a letter informing the Legionaries of the pope’s decision.

The letter, written by the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said the pope wanted to help the Legionaries of Christ deal with its present problems with “truth and transparency.” It said the visitation would be carried out by “a team of prelates,” who were not identified.

Apostolic visitation is a form of internal church investigation ordered by a pope and undertaken by his delegate or delegates. The pope sets the jurisdiction and powers of the visitation, which usually ends with the submission of a report to the Holy See.


Many have urged such a step, among them some of the Legion’s erstwhile fans on the right, such as George Weigel here, who foresaw a takeover along the lines of Obama’s plan for General Motors–now there’s irony:

“To take an image from corporate law, the Legion of Christ must be immediately put into receivership: A personal delegate, appointed by the pope, must be empowered to take over the governance of the Legion of Christ and to conduct the moral and institutional audit required. The papal delegate would be instructed to report his findings, both interim and final, to the pope alone, and he would be instructed to make recommendations (again, to the pope alone) addressing the possible futures, including dissolution or dissolution-and-reconstitution, of the Legion.”


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posted March 31, 2009 at 2:31 pm

YIKES and YIKES! I grew up in the little Connecticut town where this group has their “world headquarters”. It is on the corner of a busy intersection and is marked only be a very inobtrusive little sign. I expect that most of the tens of thousands of people that drive by every day have no idea who the group is or anything about the controversy that goes all the way to the Pope! To say the least, I am flabbergasted to know what problems lurk in the little house in the woods on the hill. I am curious to know what the local priests have to say about this – they are only a few miles away in a very visible church on the same very busy road.

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posted March 31, 2009 at 5:27 pm

The Churchmen have proved themselves horrendously inept when it comes to public relations. Lombardi just “took one” for the pope over the Williamson and condom gaffs. Judging by past fiascoes, too many to detail here, this “Apostolic Visit” should prove to be a “hoot.” The whitewash being connived at should be easy enough to journalistically power wash without too much effort.

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posted April 1, 2009 at 10:31 am

Don’t expect the same diligence like we saw from the Inquisition in this case as far as the Church’s investigation goes. Giving rise to scandal is the cardinal sin of the Church.
Dare I ask whether the police will be a part of this. Let us remember that really serious crimes, felonies happened. My biggest concern is that the Mexican justice system will be unable to deal with this issue, hopefully we can get them brought to justice here in the US.
Remember that if a company decides to investigate serious criminal activity internally, its management can all expect to go to prison if the cat gets out of the bag. Why are things different here? The higher-ups have just admitted their complicity.

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posted April 7, 2009 at 8:42 am

I believe everyone who hasn’t experienced the legion first hand and assume they have problems is ignorant and an oxi-moron. I’m going to say that everyone who criticises the legion doesn’t know how to be a real Catholic due to the fact that, the legion has a different lifestyle and if you remember Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” So for any other ignorant statements out there respect them, because God knows they are praying for the ones who criticize and do not respect them. I have been their and I can promise they go through a harder time then most parish Priests.

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posted August 26, 2014 at 5:54 pm

I’m not that much of a internet reader to be honest but your sites really
nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back in the
future. All the best

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