Photo Credits: CulturaColectiva.com
Marcial Maciel, the Mexican founder of the ultra-conservative Legionaries of Christ, was punished by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006. Pope Benedict XV! ordered Maciel to retire to a life of prayer and penitence after years of allegations that he had sexually abused boys and young men. Similar to many sexual predators from religious orders, even he could not face charges because he died two years later.
A new report form the Catholic group published on Saturday, lists 175 instances of child abuse over the past eight decades, implicating 33 priests. Also, the report states that Marcial Maciel abused at least 60 minors. “Of the 33 priests, six died without being tried, one was convicted and another one – already removed from clerical status – is currently on trial,” the report concludes. The question is what happened with the other 25 priests because the report didn’t say that.
In 1997, a group of nine men went public with accusations that they had been abused as youths and young men by Maciel while studying under him in Spain and Rome in the 1940s and 1950s. The group, which included respectable academics and former priests, lodged formal charges at the Vatican in 1998. They were told the following year that the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (then headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI) was not moving forward with a direct prosecution. It is not publicly known if this decision was made by Pope John Paul II or Cardinal Ratzinger himself.
“There has been progress on an institutional path of reparation and reconciliation” for 45 victims of abuse, the report states, without going into further detail. “There is still a great need to continue facilitating this path for others,” it adds.
Before he died, Maciel forcefully denied the charges against him, and many of them came too late for prosecutors to pursue a criminal case. “I never engaged in the sort of repulsive behavior these men accuse me of,” he said in 2002. After Maciel’s death, it came to light that he had also maintained relationships with at least two women, one of whom was a minor. He fathered as many as six children, and allegedly abused two of these children as well.