POPE JOHN PAUL II: Father Maciel Marcial,was a morphine addict who sexually abused at least 20 Legion seminarians from the 1940s to the ’60s. Bishop John McGann of Rockville Centre, N.Y., sent a letter by a former Legion priest with detailed allegations to the Vatican in 1976, 1978 and 1989 through official channels. Nothing happened. Maciel began fathering children in the early 1980s — three of them by two Mexican women, with reports of a third family with three children in Switzerland, according to El Mundo in Madrid, Spain.Concealing his web of relations, Maciel raised a fortune from wealthy backers, and ingratiated himself with church officials in Rome…Maciel’s chief supporter (was) Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state from 1990 to 2006. Maciel left an ecclesiastical empire with which the church must now contend. The Italian newsweekly L’espresso estimates the Legion’s assets at 25 billion euros, with a $650 million annual budget, according to The Wall Street Journal.In 1994 Pope John Paul II heralded him (Maciel) as “an efficacious guide to youth.” John Paul continued praising Maciel after a 1997 Hartford Courant investigation by Gerald Renner and this writer exposed Maciel’s drug habits and abuse of seminarians.In 1998, eight ex-Legionaries filed a canon law case to prosecute him in then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s tribunal. For the next six years, Maciel had the staunch support of three pivotal figures: Sodano; Cardinal Eduardo Martínez Somalo, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life; and Msgr. Stanislaw Dziwisz, the Polish secretary of John Paul. During those years, Sodano pressured Ratzinger not to prosecute Maciel…In 2004, John Paul — ignoring the canon law charges against Maciel — honored him in a Vatican ceremony in which he entrusted the Legion with the administration of Jerusalem’s Notre Dame Center, an education and conference facility.John Paul’s support gave Maciel credibility as he moved with seamless ease among the ultra-wealthy. At a 2004 fundraiser in New York, a video cameraman filmed him running his fingers down the tuxedo lapel of the Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, a major Legion supporter. Besides donations, Legion schools in Mexico with high tuitions and low salaries subsidized the operations in Rome…Legion supporters ranged from Steve McEveety, producer of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” (Legion priests advised on the film), to Thomas Monaghan, founder of Domino’s Pizza and Ave Maria University in Florida. Others who supported the Legion include former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who spoke at Legion conferences…and the late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, editor of First Things, who wrote that he believed with “moral certainty” that the charges against Maciel were “false and malicious.””Harvard Law Professor and former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican Mary Ann Glendon taught at Regina Apostolorum Athenaeum, the Legion’s university in Rome, and advised in the planning that led to the order’s first university in America, University of Sacramento, Calif. In a 2002 letter for the Legion Web site she scoffed at the allegations against him and praised Maciel’s “radiant holiness” and “the success of Regnum Christi [the order’s lay wing] and the Legionaries of Christ in advancing the New Evangelization”Two Legion priests are TV news celebrities: Jonathan Morris on FOX, and Tom Williams, a theology professor at the Legion university in Rome, for NBC during Katie Couric’s coverage of the 2005 conclave and again with Couric at CBS….(we) made repeated efforts to seek comment from the three cardinals who allegedly received substantial payments under Maciel’s auspices, by speaking with Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi on the telephone and via follow-up e-mails. Besides calls to the residences of the two cardinals in Rome, the paper made an extensive effort to contact now-Cardinal Dziwisz, in Krakow, Poland. Iowana Hoffman, a Polish journalist in New York, translated a letter with questions for the cardinal, faxed it to Dziwisz’s press secretary, but was told that the cardinal “does not have time for an interview.”Sodano, the former secretary of state and now dean of the College of Cardinals, and Martínez Somalo, former papal chamberlain, did not respond to messages left with Lombardi. A receptionist who answered Sodano’s residential number said to call the Vatican. The woman answering Martínez Somalo’s phone, when asked in Spanish if he would speak with a journalist, said emphatically, ” No entrevista! ” — “No interview.”Had Sodano, Martínez Somalo and Dziwisz responded, the cardinals might have answered one question that hovers over this baroque financial drama: How do Vatican officials decide what to report, and to whom, if they are given large sums of money? The Vatican has no constitution or statutes that would make such transactions illegal. But those familiar with the strategy say it was Maciel’s goal to insulate himself from the Vatican’s archaic system of secret tribunals by making friends with men in power. For most of his life, it worked.…The Legion constitution included the highly controversial Private Vows, by which each Legionary swore never to speak ill of Maciel, or the superiors, and to report to them anyone who uttered criticism. The vows basically rewarded spying as an expression of faith, and cemented the Legionaries’ lockstep obedience to the founder….Dziwisz was John Paul’s closest confidante, a Pole who had a bedroom in the private quarters of the Apostolic Palace. Maciel spent years cultivating Dziwisz’s support. Under Maciel, the Legion steered streams of money to Dziwisz in his function as gatekeeper for the pope’s private Masses in the Apostolic Palace….such exchanges are not considered bribes in the view of Nicholas Cafardi, a prominent canon lawyer and the dean emeritus of Duquesne University Law School in Pittsburgh. Cafardi, who has done work as a legal consultant for many bishops, responded to a general question about large donations to priests or church officials in the Vatican. Under church law (canon 1302), a large financial gift to an official in Rome “would qualify as a pious cause,” explains Cafardi. He spoke in broad terms, saying that such funds should be reported to the cardinal-vicar for Rome. An expensive gift, like a car, need not be reported.
Maciel wanted to buy power,” said the priest who facilitated the Mexican family’s opera carita to Dziwisz. He did not use the word bribery, but in explaining why he left the Legion, morality was at issue. “It got to a breaking point for me [over] a culture of lying [within the order]. The superiors know they’re lying and they know that you know,” he said. “They lie about money, where it comes from, where it goes, how it’s given.”When Martínez Somalo, a Spaniard, became head of the congregation overseeing religious in 1994, Maciel dispatched this priest to Martínez Somalo’s home. The young priest carried an envelope thick with cash. “I didn’t bat an eye,” he recalled. “I went up to his apartment, handed him the envelope, said goodbye. … It was a way of making friends, insuring certain help if it were needed, oiling the cogs.”…Martínez Somalo’s office took a new name: Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. But the job description stayed the same. From 1994 to 2004, the Spanish cardinal’s duties included investigating any complaints about religious orders or their leaders. In the files of that congregation, according to several former Legionaries, sat letters that dated back many years, accusing Maciel of abusing seminarians. When the wrenching accounts of nine seminary-victims of Maciel made news in the 1997 Hartford Courant, Martínez Somalo did nothing. That was the reaction throughout the Roman curia.John Paul named Martínez Somalo to the post of carmelango, or chamberlain, the official in charge of the conclave when a pope is elected.
For years Maciel had Legion priests dole out envelopes with cash and donate gifts to officials in the curia. In the days leading up to Christmas, Legion seminarians spent hours packaging the baskets with expensive bottles of wine, rare brandy, and cured Spanish hams that alone cost upward of $1,000 each. Priests involved in the gifts and larger cash exchanges say that in hindsight they view Maciel’s strategy as akin to an insurance policy, to protect himself should he be exposed and to position the Legion as an elite presence in the workings of the Vatican.
Fichter, the former Legion member, is today pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Haworth, N.J. He has been a diocesan priest for a decade, and serves in the Newark archdiocese. He coordinated the Legion’s administrative office in Rome from February 1998 until October 2000. “When Fr. Maciel would leave Rome it was my duty to supply him with $10,000 in cash — $5,000 in American dollars, and the other half in the currency of the country to which he was traveling,” explained Fichter. “I would be informed by one of his assistants that he was leaving and I would have to prepare the funds for him. I never questioned that he was not using it for good and noble purposes. It was a routine part of my job. He was so totally above reproach that I felt honored to have that role. He did not submit any receipts and I would have not dared to ask him for a receipt.”
After the ex-Legion victims filed a canonical case in 1998 against Maciel in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Sodano as secretary of state — essentially, the Vatican prime minister — pressured Ratzinger, as the congregation’s prefect, to halt the proceeding. …José Barba, a college professor in Mexico City and ex-Legionary who filed the 1998 case in Ratzinger’s office, learned from the canonist handling the case, Martha Wegan in Rome, of Sodano’s role.
“Sodano came over with his entire family, 200 of them, for a big meal when he was named cardinal,” recalled Favreau. “And we fed them all. When he became secretary of state there was another celebration. He’d come over for special events, like the groundbreaking with a golden shovel for the House of Higher Studies. And a dinner after that.” The intervention of a high Vatican official in a tribunal case illustrates the fragile nature of the system, and in the Maciel case, how a guilty man escaped punishment for years. “Cardinal Sodano was the cheerleader for the Legion,” said one of the ex-Legionaries. “He’d come give a talk at Christmas and they’d give him $10,000.”
In 2009, a year after Maciel’s death, the Legion disclosed its surprise on discovering that he had a daughter. The news jolted the order and its lay arm, Regnum Christi. Yet in an organization built on a cult of personality, the long praise from John Paul suggested a legacy of virtue in Maciel. Legion officials scrambled to suppress skepticism. Two Legion priests (said) in July (2009) that seminarians in Rome were still being taught about Maciel’s virtuous life. “They are being brainwashed, as if nothing happened,” said a Legionary, sitting on a bench near Rome’s Tiber River….
In a book on Maciel published in Spain, journalist Alfonso Torres Robles calls an event on Jan. 3, 1991, “one of the most powerful demonstrations of strength by the Legion … at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, when John Paul II ordained 60 Legionaries into the priesthood, in the presence of 7,000 Regnum Christi members from different countries, 15 cardinals, 52 bishops and many millionaire benefactors.” Maciel had the event filmed and a sequence used in a video the Legion sold until 2006. John Paul was a strategic image in Legion mass mailings and the video shown to potential donors when seminarians accompanied priests to their homes.
…Maciel forced all Legionaries to take private vows, never to speak ill of Maciel or any superiors, and to report to their superiors anyone who did. The vows ensured his cult of personality.
Juan Vaca and seven other early victims of Maciel who first spoke publicly, in the 1997 Hartford Courant report by Gerald Renner and this writer, gave graphic accounts of how, in Spain and Rome in the 1950s, they watched Maciel inject himself with a morphine painkiller called dolantin, as the drug was called at the time. In 1956, a strung-out Maciel entered Salvator Mundi Hospital in Rome. Cardinal Valerio Valeri, a reed-like former diplomat and prefect for Congregation of Religious, was furious over letters from an older seminarian in Mexico City who had seen Maciel self-inject and worried about his overly affectionate behavior with boys. The priest who ran the Legion high school was also concerned about Maciel’s drug use and advances on youths. Cardinal Valeri suspended Maciel and arranged for Carmelite priests to assume control of the Legion house.
…Maciel traveled between Spain and Latin America, raising money for a big project underway in Rome: Our Lady of Guadalupe Basilica. Maciel got his break in 1959 when Pius XII died. Micara, by then the vicar of Rome, signed an order reinstating Maciel — something for which, in the interregnum between popes, he had no authority to do. Canon law puts official duties in abeyance in the interim. What were Valeri and other officials who were offended by Maciel to do? Expend what capital they had with the new pontiff, challenging Micara over a druggy priest with a vice for boys but cash lines to build a basilica? Maciel was redeemed by an illegitimate order from a cardinal to whom he had given $10,000 13 years before, according to a priest with access to Legion files.
….Maciel reaped lasting dividends in Monterrey with the Garza-Sada families. The dynasty dates to 1890, when Isaac Garza and his brother-in-law, Francisco Sada, opened a brewery. Isaac’s sons, Eugenio and Roberto Garza Sada, both graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, built a bottling factory in 1943. As they branched into other industries, the Garza brothers founded a university, TEC — the Technical Institute of Superior Studies in Monterrey. Maciel launched private schools in Monterrey, one for boys, one for girls. He exported to America a model for prep schools to attract well-heeled families who would join Regnum Christi, which organized study groups to discuss Maciel’s letters. Lay celibates, the highest level of Regnum Christi members, live in communities and work relentlessly on fundraising….”They were grooming us for Regnum Christi — the Movement. If your family had money, power, influence, they wanted you. They kept telling me, ‘God gave you everything, you must give back by fighting the forces of evil.’ … Their whole discourse was this paradise of moral rectitude….” Two of (Garza-Sada) siblings joined the Movement. Paulina, now in her 50s, is a Regnum Christi consecrated woman in Rome. A brother, Fr. Luis Garza Medina, graduated from Stanford University in California in 1978 with a degree in industrial engineering and entered the Legion. At 32 he became vicar general, the second highest position. Through the two siblings, Maciel secured a continuing flow of money from the family. Fr. Garza donated $3 million of his inheritance to the Legion, according to a colleague at the time. In an e-mail exchange, Fr. Garza would neither confirm nor deny the amount or the donation….
Maciel died in a surreal drama where his life pieces converged with shuddering fall. In late January 2008, he was in a hospital in Miami, according to a Jan. 31, 2010 report by reporters Sota and Vidal of El Mundo….In the hospital gathered Alvaro Corcuera, Maciel’s successor as director general; the Legion’s general secretary, Evarista Sada; and numerous other associates. Maciel reportedly refused to make a confession, stirring such concerns that someone summoned an exorcist, though the article does not describe a ritual. The men around Maciel were jarred when two women appeared: Norma the mother, and Normita, 23. At that point, Maciel reportedly said of the Normas: “I want to stay with them.”
The El Mundo article continues: “The Legionary priests, alarmed by Maciel’s attitude, called Rome. [Fr.] Luis Garza knew right away that this was a grave problem. He consulted with the highest authority, Alvaro Corcuera, and then hopped on the first plane to Miami and went directly to the hospital.
[Garza’s] indignation could be read on his face. He faced the once-powerful founder and threatened him: “I will give you two hours to come with us or I will call all the press and the whole world will find out who you really are.” And Maciel let his arm be twisted. After the priests got Maciel to a Legion house in Jacksonville, Florida, he reportedly grew belligerent when Corcuero tried to anoint him, yelling, “I said no!” The article says Maciel refused to make a final confession, and states flatly that he “did not believe in God’s pardon.” That is an opinion that Maciel’s sordid life might well support, but for which, in fact, we have no proof.
In announcing his ascent to heaven, immediately following Maciel’s 2008 death, the Legion high command took propaganda to a level beyond category.
The Mission of Father Maciel
by Alma Guillermoprieto
Of all the terrible sexual scandals the hierarchs in the Vatican find themselves tangled in, none is likely to do more institutional damage than the astounding and still unfolding story of the Mexican priest Marcial Maciel.
The crimes committed against children by other priests and bishops may provoke rage, but they also make one want to look away. With Father Maciel, on the other hand, one can hardly tear oneself from the ghastly drama as it unfolds, page by page, revelation by revelation, in the Mexican press.
Father Maciel, who was born in Mexico and died in 2008 at the age of eighty-seven, was known around the Catholic world. Against ordinarily insurmountable obstacles, he founded what was to become one of the most dynamic, profitable, and conservative religious orders of the twentieth century, which today has almost eight hundred priests and approximately 70,000 men and women around the world who participate in the lay movement Regnum Christi. The Legion of Christ, nearly seventy years old as an order, is comparatively small, but it is influential: it operates fifteen universities, and some 140,000 students are enrolled in its schools (in New York, its members teach in eleven parish schools). And its leadership has long enjoyed remarkable access to the Vatican hierarchy.
A great achiever and close associate of Pope John Paul II, Maciel was also a bigamist, pederast, dope fiend, and plagiarist. He came from the fervently religious state of Michoacán in the southwest of Mexico and grew up during the years of the Cristero War (1926–1929), a savage conflict that pitched traditional Catholics (Cristeros) in provincial Mexico against the anticlerical government in the capital. One of his uncles was the commanding general of the Cristeros. Another four uncles were bishops. One of them, Rafael Guízar Valencia, brought him into a clandestine seminary in Mexico City. As a twenty-year-old who had not even taken his vows, Maciel created a new religious order with the help of another uncle.
… Maciel was evidently a man of some magnetism. Dozens of wealthy women contributed generous amounts for the Legionaries’ good works, and the Mexican magazine Quién, normally known for its society pages and not for its investigative reporting, recently had a story about one of Mexico’s wealthiest widows, Flora Barragán de Garza, who donated upward of $50 million during the years of Maciel’s glory. “She gave him practically all our father’s fortune,” Barragán’s daughter told the Quién interviewer, adding that the family finally had to intervene so that the by then elderly woman would not be left destitute. Her generosity allowed Maciel to travel first-class throughout his peripatetic life, but it also provided the seed money for the network of private schools to which wealthy Mexican conservatives dispatched their children.
In 1997, Blanca Estela Lara Gutiérrez, a Mexican woman who was living in Cuernavaca, looked at the cover of the magazine Contenido—a Reader’s Digest sort of publication—and saw on it the face of her common-law husband. She had been his partner for twenty-one years and borne him two children, and she knew him as a private detective or “CIA agent” who, for understandable work-related reasons, put in only occasional appearances at home. Now she learned that he was a priest and that his real name was Marcial Maciel.
He was, the magazine said, the head of an order whose strictness and extreme conservatism appeared to hide some vile secrets: the article, picking up information first brought to light by Gerald Renner and Jason Berry in the Hartford Courant, revealed that nine men—two of whom helped to establish the Legionaries in the US and another still an active member, and the rest all former members of the order—had informed their superiors in Rome that Maciel had abused them sexually when they were pubescent seminarians under his care.
The accusations were not new, nor would they be the last. In 1938 Maciel was expelled from his uncle Guízar’s seminary, and shortly afterward from a seminary in the United States. According to witnesses, Maciel and his uncle had a gigantic row behind closed doors, and one witness, a Legionary who had known Maciel since childhood, told the psychoanalyst Fernando González that the bishop’s rage had to do with the fact that Maciel was locking himself up in the boardinghouse where he was staying with some of the younger boys at his uncle’s seminary.
…Later, it would become known that Maciel had his students and seminarians procure Dolantin (morphine) for him. This led to Maciel’s suspension as head of the order in 1956. Inexplicably, he was reinstated after two years. Much later still, someone realized that his book, The Psalter of My Days, which was more or less required reading in Legionary institutions, and was a sort of Book of Hours, or prayer guide, was lifted virtually in its entirety from The Psalter of My Hours, an account written by a Spaniard who was sentenced to life in prison after the Spanish civil war.
Uneducated and mendacious, Maciel nevertheless had a genius for politics, and for personal relations. But there was more… Maciel’s envoys would regularly deliver envelopes with thousands of dollars in cash to key Church hierarchs. Private audiences with the Pope commanded as much as $50,000 dollars per visit, money that was channeled through Stanislaw Dziwisz, the Polish priest who was the Pope’s private secretary from 1966 until John Paul’s death.
…It is hard not to think that these are the reasons the Vatican ignored the detailed and heart-wrenching letter sent in 1998 by eight of Maciel’s accusers (the ninth member of the group having died). Even as the public first became aware of the accusations through the Hartford Courant and the Mexican press, which picked up the story immediately, the Vatican refused to act. Instead, Pope John Paul II put forward the beatification of Maciel’s mother and of his uncle, Bishop Guízar. (The bishop is now Saint Guízar; Maciel’s mother is still going through the beatification process.) It was only in 2006, after John Paul’s death, that a Vatican communiqué announced that Maciel had been “invited to lead a reserved life of prayer and penitence.” He lived out his final years quietly and died in the United States. The Legionaries, however, have continued to grow in numbers and in wealth.
…Paraguayans have not abandoned their cheerful president, former priest Fernando Lugo, despite the fact that he is known to have fathered at least three children (he seems to think there may be more) while he was still a bishop. Homosexuality has also been tolerated and to some degree almost expected of skirt-wearing priests in this macho part of the (Latin American) world. It is possible, perhaps, that for many Catholics baptism, confession, and weekly mass are almost bureaucratic procedures, like voting or getting a driver’s license, and that true faith is something that happens at homemade altars and through the magical pathways of much older rituals, leaving priests to live their own lives as long as they do a creditable job with the sermons and the burials. The sexual abuse of children and its cover-up are a different matter entirely, one suspects.
As it turns out, Maciel’s common-law marriage to Lara Gutiérrez was not exclusive. Some ten years after he met her, he began a long-lasting relationship with a nineteen-year-old waitress from Acapulco, to whom he introduced himself as an “oil broker.” He had a daughter with her, and, according to a recent article in the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, several more children with other partners.
After she found out that her husband was not a CIA agent but a child- molesting priest, Lara Gutiérrez did not come forth with the news that she was married to him. Perhaps she was terrified unawares of the man she believed “was her God,” as she would say a decade later. Perhaps she was simply ashamed. At any rate, she kept silent …And then, last March, two years after Maciel’s death, Lara Gutiérrez appeared with her three sons on one of Mexico’s most well-regarded talk shows and listened quietly while two of her children testified that their father, Marcial Maciel, had made them masturbate him, and had first attempted to rape them, the older one said, when he was seven years old. (This testimony has been tarnished somewhat by the revelation that the sons had earlier demanded millions of dollars from the Legionaries of Christ in exchange for their silence. The order has not attempted to deny the accusation, however).
We have a double vision of Maciel: we see the saintly figure known to his followers—one long, elegant hand placed on his chest, the other raised in benediction—and, as if through a keyhole, the other, nightmarish, Maciel, demanding that young boys masturbate him and then assuring the shocked, traumatized children that he was authorized by the Vatican to obtain “relief” by this means from dreadful physical pain.
…The Legionaries—that is, Maciel—financed the construction of the church of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Philip Martyr in Rome, which Maciel intended for his mausoleum. But strikingly, Maciel the priest nearly always staged his pederastic dramas in the infirmary, or sick room (enfermeria) of whatever Legionary seminary he happened to be at, as if this were a place where he could be cured. The masturbatory acts were explained to his victims as a remedy for his pain, but perhaps he truly hoped for healing of some sort in the infirmary. He knew, in any event, how sick he was: he left instructions with his delegates not to start the process of his canonization until thirty years after his death—in the hope, one can guess, that the memory of his sins would be erased by then.
Quite apart from the damage to Maciel’s victims, there is the pressing question of why the Catholic Church, as an institution, did not condemn him when he was ordained as a priest, or when he founded the Legionaries, or when the story of his pederasty made the covers of magazines, or when enough evidence was found for Pope Benedict XVI to conclude that Maciel should live out the rest of his life in seclusion, or even when the rumors grew strong enough to warrant a Vatican investigation of the order as a whole. The answer surprises no one: at a time in which churches are emptying, the Legionaries have been a rich source of conscripts, money, and influence. In Mexico everyone from (billionaire) Carlos Slim to Marta Sahagún, the wife of former president Vicente Fox, gave money to or asked favors from Maciel. It was not until last year that Karol Wojtyla’s successor, Pope Benedict XVI, at last authorized a visitation—churchspeak for investigation—of the entire order of the Legion of Christ.
As usual, the press and some disaffected religious have been way ahead of the Vatican. Now we learn from the press that the order kept some nine hundred women under nonbinding vows as consagradas, or quasi nuns, in conditions of severe emotional privation. According to a recent report in Milenio, the women, members of the Regnum Christi, live communally although they are not ordained. They are allowed to see their parents once a year, and spend two weeks with the rest of their family every seven years. They are expected to donate half their material worth after fifteen years of consecration, and donate the full amount after twenty-five. Twice a month they are obligated to have a confession-like conversation with their female superiors, who in turn report on the content of these talks to their own superiors within the Legionaries. The Vatican visitators who conducted the recent investigation of Maciel were allegedly surprised to discover the existence of the consagradas, and to find these and other violations of canonical law in their statutes.
In the end, the scandal of Marcial Maciel, gruesome and grotesque as it is, may turn out to be a scandal of the Catholic Church. There is the distressing question of the Church’s last pope, the popular John Paul II, and his relations with the demonic priest. There is the not unimportant fact that the Legionaries—along with Benedict XVI and indeed John Paul II—represent the most morally conservative part of the Church, and that they now appear enmeshed in squalid moral scandals. There is, above all, the fact that an entire large, wealthy, international institution is now under suspicion (what did Maciel’s fellow Legionaries know, when did they know it, and who was complicit?) and that the greatest institution of all, the Roman Catholic Church, appears to have engaged in a cover-up for decades on its behalf….
…Many priests and nuns, it would seem, opt to “obey” rules but not comply with them, as the Spanish formulation has it (obedezco, pero no cumplo). I offer this simply as anecdotal evidence, but in my casual, friendly, and often admiring acquaintance with members of the Catholic orders—all from the social activist branch of the Church, for whatever it’s worth—a remarkable number have been involved in some sort of couple relationship…(end quote).
Michael Hoffman’s Afterword
These crimes were facilitated in many ways: through bureaucracy, greed and venality, but above all the devil worked through those priests and hierarchs who instilled in the faithful an allegiance to a false understanding of obedience. Beware religious authorities who insinuate that you must obey them rather than God, reversing the Gospel command to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).
This is the lesson to be gleaned from this disgusting and criminal Vatican farrago, as it transpired in the pontificate of Pope John Paul II — and many of the most guilty hierarchs remain in power under Pope Benedict XVI.
Marcial Maciel named his organization the “Legion of Christ” and by his subsequent actions he blasphemed that name, the name above all others, to which every knee shall bow (Philippians 2:10). How any Christian can give allegiance to the Vatican mafia that is still in place and which enabled Maciel’s crime spree is beyond rational comprehension, except in terms of the functioning of a cult mentality (Matthew 20: 25-28).
From On the Contrary: Pope John Paul “the Great” and his crime syndicate: Part I Fr. Marciel. 1. Investigative reporting by Jason Berry; 2. “The Mission of Father Maciel” by Alma Guillermoprieto; 3. Michael Hoffman’s Afterword The link to the webpage is: On the Contrary: Pope John Paul “the Great” and his crime syndicate: Pt 1 Fr. Marciel
The Shame of John Paul II: How the Sex Abuse Scandal Stained His Papacy
Moreover, on the greatest internal crisis facing the church, the pope failed, time and again, to take decisive action in response to clear evidence of a criminal underground in the priesthood, a subculture that sexually traumatized tens of thousands of youngsters. Despite a 1984 warning memo from the Rev. Thomas Doyle, then a canon lawyer in the Vatican Embassy in Washington, and a ninety-three-page report on the problem co-written by Doyle in 1985, which was sent to every American bishop, John Paul ordered no outreach to victims, no binding policy to rid the priesthood of deviants. In 1989 the US conference of bishops sent experts in canon law to Rome, seeking a streamlined process for defrocking child molesters rather than waiting for the byzantine Vatican bureaucracy and final word from the pope. John Paul refused. Litigation and prosecutions spread, but the pope remained passive.
As victim-survivors found their way to lawyers, a train of legal discovery in the United States, Ireland and other countries yielded documents linking complicit bishops, religious-order superiors and Vatican officials in the concealment of sex offenders. On April 21 in an important lawsuit against the Vatican by a man who was abused by a predator priest, a federal district court in Portland, Oregon, ordered church officials in Rome to turn over documents for discovery. District Judge Michael Mosman said, “Plaintiff has proffered evidence that tends to show the Holy See knew of [the priest’s] propensities and that in some cases, the Holy See exercised direct control over the conduct, placement, and removal of individual priests accused of similar sexual misconduct.” The US Supreme Court declined to hear the Holy See’s appeal for dismissal, which was based on a claim of sovereign immunity.
On John Paul’s role in the church’s long nightmare, the Rev. Richard McBrien, a distinguished University of Notre Dame theologian, wrote, “Indeed, he had a terrible record, full of denial and foot-dragging, on the greatest crisis to confront the Catholic Church since the Reformation of the 16th century.”
From the link: The Shame of John Paul II: How the Sex Abuse Scandal Stained His Papacy
Pope John Paul II and the Sex Abuse Case
The world is not ignorant about the presence of lecherous priests in the world but, who would have guessed that the Catholic Church also hosts a few of these perverts of the highest order. Among the most serious cases are the ones involving Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer an Austrian friend of the Pope. The Cardinal was accused of molesting over 2000 boys and young monks in his overall career span. Even then he sailed through the situation because there were no sanctions placed on him.
The next case was related to Marcial Maciel Degollado, the Mexican founder of the ‘Legion of Christ’. This person was accused of not only molesting young boys but fathering a number of children through innumerable women. The reason why Pope John Paul II was disapproved was for obstructing investigation in both these cases. In fact he had been criticized for promoting those individuals who had sex abuse cases pending against them.
Covering up of these cases have been considered to be worse than the crime itself. Cardinal Ratzinger under the auspices of Pope John Paul II had written a letter stating that all sex abuse cases in the Catholic Church be sent to his department and be subject to pontifical secrecy. He had also tried to persuade the Pope to bring them to book, but his opponents in the Vatican managed to block any further enquiry into the issue. In the words of the Present Pope Benedict XVI, ‘the other side had won’.
When the child abuse cases in the Catholic Church had first come to light, the Pope had an acceptable ‘bad apple’ explanation to provide. He said that even as priests some brothers are afflicted by sins that betray the grace of ordination. It is because of these few bad cases that the other brothers, who are conducting their office in the most virtuous manner, with honesty and integrity which sometimes result in heroic self sacrifice, are also tarnished. Although he showed his concern and sympathy to the victims and their families, he called upon the rest to embrace the ‘mysterium crucis’ and commit more fully to the search of holiness.
While H.H Groer was removed as Arch Bishop of Vienna in 1995, Pope Benedict finally managed to oust Maciel in 2006. Further investigations have proved that Maciel had sent pots of money to buy support in the Vatican.
One can give many reasons as to why Pope John Paul II had brushed all this rubbish under the Vatican carpet. It may be that he did not want the people in general to loose their faith on the Church, or it could also be that he believed that some (not all) of these cases were made to frame people in high Vatican offices. Whatever the excuse may be, people will question him for not dealing with these perverts in strict hands. History will show that it was actually Pope Benedict XVI and not Pope John Paul II who had initiated ‘purification’ of the Church.
Pope John Paul II and the Sex Abuse Case