Legionaries of Christ officially denounce founder Maciel
Delegates issue an apology to his 'many victims'
Father Marcial Maciel with Pope John Paul II (picture: Reuters)
- Philip Pullella for Reuters
- February 7, 2014
A disgraced Catholic religious order whose late founder lived a double life as a paedophile, womanizer and drug addict officially denounced him on Thursday and apologized to his "many victims".
The Legionaries of Christ, which former members said was run like a cult rooted in secrecy, accused Father Marcial Maciel of "reprehensible and objectively immoral behavior" as head of the order from 1941 until former Pope Benedict removed him in 2006.
Once a darling of the Vatican because it attracted many Catholics to religious vocations and made sizeable financial donations to the Church, the order has been in Vatican receivership since 2010 and came close to being disbanded.
The apology, issued by delegates from around the world meeting in Rome to set a new direction for the order, came a day after a United Nations committee singled it out in a scathing report accusing the Church of ignoring child abuse by priests.
The statement denounced "the magnitude of the evil and scandal caused" by Maciel, who died in 2008, and said the conservative order was now ready to turn a page.
The meeting, which began on January 8 and is due to end in late February, elected Father Eduardo Robles Gil as the order's new leader. Like Maciel, the 61-year-old hails from Mexico.
"We want to express our deep sorrow for the abuse of minor seminarians, the immoral acts with men and women who were adults, the arbitrary use of his authority and of material goods ..." the order said.