'All for ourselves and nothing for other people' seems in every age of the world to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind. -Adam Smith "All the 'truth' in the world adds up to one big lie." Bob Dylan "Idealism precedes experience, cynicism follows it." Anon

April 27, 2011

Best city in the world honours man who protected notorious Catholic child abuser

Chain The Dogma    April 27, 2011

Why is the best city in the world honouring a man who protected one of the most notorious child abusers in the Catholic Church?

by Perry Bulwer

The fast-tracked beatification of Pope John Paul II takes place May 1, 2011 and at the request of the Archbishop of Vancouver the City of Vancouver proclaimed that day “Blessed John Paul II Day in Vancouver”. The four reasons given for that proclamation are: 1) that is the day the Catholic Church will beatify him; 2) he played an unprecedented role in promoting peace and justice around the world; 3) he visited Vancouver once in 1984 and spoke to hundreds of thousands of people; 4) Catholics in Vancouver revere him.

Regarding the fast-tracking of that beatification, which will place John Paul II one step from sainthood, Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, stated at a conference in Rome: "Clearly his cause was put on the fast track, but the process was done carefully and meticulously, following the rules Pope John Paul himself issued in 1983". How convenient. Beatified according to his own rules. But that is not the only ethical lapse in this process. Pope Benedict, who revered John Paul II, will be the first Pope in many centuries to bestow that honour on his immediate predecessor. It is also the fastest trip towards sainthood a Pope has ever taken.

Retired Bishop Geoffrey Robinson of Sydney, Australia has a different take on that fast-track. He headed an Australian bishops’ commission on clerical sexual abuse from 1994-2003 and is the author of the book “Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church.” In June 2008 at the University of California at San Diego he stated: “If sainthood for John Paul II is placed on the fast track, those in charge should take note of the cases of priestly sexual abuse he ignored, especially that of Father Marcial Maciel Degollado.”

Cardinal Amato explained that “Pope John Paul II is being beatified not because of his impact on history [so much for point 2 in Vancouver's proclamation] or on the Catholic Church [there go points 3 and 4], but because of the way he lived the Christian virtues of faith, hope and love....” He added, candidates must have “... lived the Christian virtues in a truly extraordinary way and ... must be perceived 'as an image of Christ'.” And Joaquin Navarro-Valls, who served as Vatican spokesman under Pope John Paul, explained further that “beatification is not a judgment on a pontificate, but on the personal holiness of the candidate”.

According to those criteria, Pope John Paul II was a virtuous, holy, image of Christ to be imitated by others. But was he? His friendship with and protection of one of the most notorious sexual abusers and pedophiles in the Catholic Church, Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the influential Legionnaires of Christ, suggests otherwise. Bishop Robinson

... described Pope John Paul II’s non-response in the matter of Father Maciel Degollado, head of the traditionalist Legionnaires of Christ, as “a failure of moral leadership on a massive scale.” The late pontiff had access to extensive documentation that Maciel Degollado had sexually abused 30 seminarians from the 1940’s to the 1970s, mostly in Spain and Italy. Some believe the true figure to be much higher.

But John Paul II, a close friend of Maciel Degollado, remained silent. The latter stood at the pope’s right hand during three papal visits to Mexico. Later, John Paul referred to him as “an efficacious guide to youth” and he heaped praise on Maciel Degollado on the 60th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood in 2004.

In her New York Times column, Maureen Dowd recently wrote:

Santo non subito! How can you be a saint if you fail to protect innocent children?

For years after the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, the founder of the Legion of Christ, was formally accused of pedophilia in a Vatican proceeding, he remained John Paul’s pet. The ultra-orthodox Legion of Christ and Opus Dei were the shock troops in John Paul’s war on Jesuits and other progressive theologians.
There was another reason, according to Jason Berry, who has written two books on the abuse crisis and is the author of the forthcoming “Render Unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church.”
“For John Paul,” Berry told me just after returning from Good Friday services, “the priesthood had a romantic, chivalrous cast, and he could not bring himself to do a fearless investigation of the clerical culture itself.
“He was duped by Maciel, but he let himself be duped. When nine people accuse the guy of abusing them as kids, the least you can do is investigate.
“Cardinals and bishops had told him about the larger abuse crisis for years. And he was passive to an absolute fault. He failed in mountainous terms.”

Marcial Maciel did not just sexually abuse seminarians. He is alleged to have fathered at least six illegitimate children and sexually molested at least two of them. Legion of Christ officials, after decades of denial, recently acknowledged their founder had abused seminarians and had sired at least one child. So far, however, the Vatican under Benedict's lead is only interested in reforming the Legion, not shutting down that corrupt order that John Paul II promoted and protected.

If Pope John Paul II was so holy why did he protect a monster like Marcial Maciel, but failed to protect the thousands of children abused by predator priests while he was the head of the church? And as Maureen Dowd asked, “How can you be a saint if you fail to protect innocent children?” That would have been a good question for the bureaucrats at Vancouver City Hall to ask before acquiescing to the archbishop of Vancouver's request for a special day to honour a man who failed to protect innocent children. Perhaps it should have been the survivors and exposers of Catholic clergy abuse who got the special day of honour instead.

Related Articles:

How can Pope John Paul II be a saint when thousands of children were raped or molested by priests under his leadership?

Vatican refuses to shut down corrupt Legionaries order for fear of imposing ideas on others, yet indoctrinating kids ok

Vatican names Spanish archbishop to investigate cult of consecrated women associated with disgraced Order


  1. Ridding Catholicism of the stench of this Legionary of Christ

    By Hugh O’Shaughnessy September 21, 2011

    At last, the Vatican begins to move in earnest to clean up the scandalous mess of the egregiously wealthy rightwing Legionaries of Christ. Their members are known to some as the "millionaires of Christ" and their stench has been in the nostrils of Catholics for too many decades.

    A start was made on 15 July to repair the enormous damage to the church done by the late Marcial Maciel Degollado, who founded the Legion of Christ in 1940. The pushy Mexican priest was the bisexual pederast, drug-addicted lover of several women and father of three who hoodwinked a succession of popes from Pius XII and who was eventually run to ground and disgraced by Benedict XVI in 2006.

    At the start of 2011 Richard Gill, for 29 years a US priest of the Legionaries of Christ but who had left the Legion last year, wrote: "It is no exaggeration to say that Marcial Maciel was by far the most despicable character in the twentieth century Catholic Church, inflicting more damage on her reputation and evangelizing mission than any other single Church leader."


    Maciel Degollado left a series of dirty marks wherever he passed. Gill, for instance, wonders why the Vatican department that deals with religious orders gave its approval in 1983 to a new constitution for the Legion, which has proved to be irregular and defective. Cardinal Eduardo Pironio, who headed that department and was one of the few senior Argentine clerics to have come out of his country's dirty war with credit, clearly committed an error in approving an unsatisfactory constitution. Paradoxically he also happened to be one of the few leaders of the church in Argentina who stood up to the sort of raging conservatives who were attracted to the Legion. Because of this, Pironio received death threats from rightwing extremists in his homeland and had to flee to Rome. Worse, his reputation was gravely damaged.

    How did Maciel Degollado fool such a succession of popes? The literal meaning of his mother's surname – which in Spanish fashion is inserted after his father's surname Maciel is fascinating. The literal meaning of "degollado" is "a man whose throat has been ripped out". How weird!

    read the full article at:


  2. Vatican Weighs in on Cult-Like Group in Legion

    By Nicole Winfield ABC News, October 17, 2011

    Vatican City (AP), The Vatican has proposed giving hundreds of women who live like nuns within the troubled Legion of Christ order greater autonomy after a Holy See investigation found serious problems in their regimented communities. The pope's delegate running the Legion, Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, said in a letter published Monday that the problems of the consecrated women of the Legion's lay branch were "many and challenging." Of particular concern is that they have no legal status in the church.

    In a 2010 Associated Press expose, former consecrated women spoke of the cult-like conditions they lived in, with rules dictating nearly every minute of their day — from how they ate to what they watched on TV — all in the name of God's will. The women described emotional and spiritual abuse they suffered if they questioned their vocation, and of how they would be cast aside if their spiritual directors no longer had any need for them.

    The Vatican ordered the investigation after word of the abuses emerged during a broader Vatican probe into the Legion, a conservative order founded in Mexico in 1941 by the late Rev. Marciel Maciel. After decades of denying allegations Maciel was a pedophile, the Legion in 2009 began admitting to his double life: that he sexually abused seminarians and had fathered at least three children with two women.

    The revelations have put the Legion in a tailspin and cast a shadow over the Vatican since Pope John Paul II had held Maciel up as a model for his orthodoxy and ability to attract new priests and donations. Maciel had created the consecrated branch of the Legion's lay movement Regnum Christi primarily as a fundraising tool and to provide unpaid teachers for Legion-owned schools. The consecrated women also run youth programs and work to recruit new members.

    The members, who at their height numbered about 900 women and a few dozen men, make promises of poverty, chastity and obedience like nuns do, though they enjoy none of the legal protections nuns have that make it difficult for their orders to kick them out. Legion officials have repeatedly declined to provide statistics on how many remain in the movement. Former members say many women have either left amidst the Maciel scandal or are taking time to discern whether they still have a vocation.


    Genevieve Kinecke, who runs an active blog read by many former Legion and consecrated members, said she hoped the autonomy envisaged by De Paolis will enable current and future members to truly discern whether they have a vocation. Up until recently, some 18-year-olds would make their lifelong commitments to being consecrated after a mere six-week candidacy program.

    "As long as the delegate relies on the existing superiors to guide his actions concerning these individuals, then we have a closed circle of conformity to the same methodology," Kinecke said in an email. While current consecrated members say they are happy and participating in the reform process, their choices haven't always pleased their parents.

    Kelly Tuttle said she grieves daily for the loss of her 27-year-old daughter, who gave up a partial medical scholarship to the University of Dayton, Ohio to become consecrated in 2003. "The Katie that I knew, I grieve for that Katie," Tuttle told the AP. "There's only the shell of her left. Because they've taken the person that I knew as my daughter, who was young and vibrant, intellectually alive and athletic, and they've taken that out of her." "It's like she's dead and gone," she said. Katie Tuttle declined to be interviewed, according to a Legion spokesman.

    read the full article at:


  3. Ratzinger altered canon law to soften Maciel punishment, book argues

    By Jason Berry, National Catholic Reporter March 24, 2012

    On Saturday, as Pope Benedict XVI makes the first appearance on his March 23-28 trip to Mexico and Cuba, three authors will hold a news conference in the same city, Leon, Mexico, discussing a book that quotes Vatican files on the pedophilia and drug abuse accusations that trailed Fr. Marcial Maciel, the founder of the Legion of Christ, for decades until his death in 2008.

    Maciel, a native of Mexico who died at 88, was a subject of long-running concern at the Vatican congregation that governs religious orders, according to La Voluntad de No Saber – “The Will Not To Know,” published by a Mexico City imprint of Random House international.

    The authors are Alberto Athié, a former priest who directed a Mexican bishops’ charity; José Barba, a retired college professor and former Legion seminarian who filed a 1998 canon law request in Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith tribunal, seeking Maciel’s excommunication; and Fernando M. González, a scholar in Mexico City and the author of a biography of Maciel.

    In late 2004, with Pope John Paul II in failing health, Ratzinger finally ordered an investigation of Maciel. In 2006, Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, banished him from active ministry to a life of prayer and repentance. That stopped short of excommunication as Barba and seven other victims wanted. The Legion continued defending Maciel until 2009 when its leaders abruptly reversed course, revealing that he had sired several out of wedlock children, now grown.
    NCR received a PDF of the book. Grijalbo, the publisher, is posting selected excerpts on a website www.lavoluntaddenosaber.com, the AP reported.

    In the book’s most striking accusation, Barba, who holds a doctorate from Harvard in Latin American studies, writes that in 2001 Cardinal Ratzinger and his chief canon lawyer, Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, modified the statute of limitations in church law regarding sex with minors “retroactively in favor of the Legionary founder, and injuring the human rights and legitimate interests of us, his victims.”

    Bertone subsequently left the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to become Archbishop of Genoa. In that capacity he wrote a glowing preface to the Italian edition of an oral memoir by Maciel in 2003, Christ Is My Life, that denied the accusations still pending from the 1998 case. Bertone became Secretary of State under Benedict in 2006. He has never explained why he promoted Maciel’s sagging reputation as he stood accused in Bertone’s old office.

    Athié, who championed the Maciel victims in correspondence with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, left the priesthood in disgust at the failure to prosecute Maciel. Athié blames John Paul II for “a moral double standard.”

    The Vatican failure to punish Maciel over many decades was examined by this reporter and Gerald Renner in Vows of Silence (2004). The documents cited by González spotlight harsh internal criticism by investigators of Maciel, from the 1940s through the 1980s, that higher Vatican officials chose to ignore. A turning point came in 1956, when Maciel was hospitalized for abuse of a morphine painkiller. Cardinal Valerio Valeri, prefect of the Sacred Congregaton for Religious [orders] sent Carmelite priests to investigate Maciel of addiction and sexually abusing seminarians. One investigator notes: “I am going to give my personal opinion. It seems to me this is about a split personality.”

    Referring to Maciel’s “double life,” González reveals that two Mexican bishops suggested Maciel was sexually dissolute; but time and again, when the time came for a forceful decision, no one made the hard call.

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    As NCR reported in 2009, Maciel gave $10,000 to Cardinal Clemente Micara, the vicar of Rome, in 1946, a huge sum in a city reeling from aftershocks of World War II. Micara signed the order reinstating him in 1959 after Pius XII’s death.
    In 1962 Maciel got in trouble again, after a brush with Spanish police when he tried to procure drugs; but in another round of internal probing by the religious orders’ congregation, a priest complained of “the most unjust prosecution of the innocent Father Maciel,” a remark that in light of the abundant evidence of his addiction spotlights the tentative, hand-wringing way church officials treated a priest who had built a basilica in Rome and, we now know, doled out money like a potentate from Tammany Hall.

    Gonzalez refers to the "omerta," or code of silence, culture that Maciel created in the Legion. He levels heavy criticism against Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, the canon lawyer in Rome who functions as overseer of the beleaguered Legionaries. De Paolis guided the drafting of a new set of bylaws for the Legion to supplant the discredited constitution, which mandated expulsion for those who did not obey the secret vow never to criticize Maciel or any Legion superior, and to report on those who did.

    De Paolis has stated that a full investigation of Maciel’s past would serve no purpose, a position that draws scorn from González in light of the ongoing investigation of Regnum Christi, the lay group whose members studied Maciel’s writings and fueled the fundraising operation.

    Gonzalez calls De Paolis "complicit" with Legion superiors in concealing the truth about Maciel, as reflected in the secret documents. He further criticizes the cardinal for taking a "vow of charity" toward Maciel's inner circle, who remain in their positions.

    La Voluntad de No Saber is nevertheless a strangely uneven book. The accusations against John Paul II, Ratzinger and Bertone are devastating in the implication of justice suborned. But the pope as supreme arbiter of canon law can do largely what he wishes. The international scandal that has stained Benedict’s papacy stems from an archaic justice system that gives cardinals and bishops a de facto immunity from prosecution.

    The documents in the book, which are being posted to the book’s website, offer a fascinating look at the ambivalent nature of “Vatican investigations.” What the authors fail to do is link those flawed investigations with Maciel’s history of channeling large sums of money to favored Vatican officials, as reported in NCR in 2009.

    The prefect of Congregation for Religious from 1976-1983 was the late Cardinal Eduardo Francisco Pironio, whose apartments in Rome were renovated at Legion expense. González includes documents that confirm the close link between Pironio and Msgr. Stanislaw Dziwisz, the private secretary and gatekeeper to John Paul II. Dziwisz, as reported previously in NCR, regularly received cash gifts as high as $50,000 at a time from Legion intermediaries to place their wealthy supporters in the tiny chapel where John Paul said Mass each morning. “An elegant way of giving a bribe,” is how a Legionary priest described it in those reports.

    González expresses outrage at the way Pironio and Dziwisz arranged for John Paul to approve the Legion constitutions that upheld the notorious vow never to criticize Maciel. The financial favors to Pironio undoubtedly helped. His successor, Cardinal Eduardo Martínez Somalo, ignored the mounting accusations against Maciel in the 1990s. He received a $90,000 gift in the late 1980s, according to a former Legion priest who said he put the envelope with cash in his hand. The cardinal rebuffed my interview requests in 2010.

    [NCR contributor Jason Berry is author of Render unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church and producer of a film on Maciel, “Vows of Silence.”]


  5. Vatican Inquiry Reflects Wider Focus on Legion of Christ

    By ELISABETTA POVOLEDO, New York Times May 11, 2012

    VATICAN CITY — The Legionaries of Christ, a powerful but troubled worldwide religious order whose founder became enmeshed in a sex scandal years ago, said Friday that the Vatican was investigating seven Legion priests over allegations of sexual abuse of minors.

    The investigation cast a new shadow upon an order already struggling to move beyond revelations that its charismatic founder, the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, had fathered several children and molested under-age seminarians.

    On Friday, the order said that after looking into “some allegations of gravely immoral acts and more serious offenses” committed by some Legionaries, internal preliminary investigations “concluded that seven had a semblance of truth.” Those cases were forwarded to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office that handles investigations of sexual abuse, the Legionaries said in a statement.

    The Vatican confirmed that the Congregation was investigating “cases of abuse” carried out by Legionaries but did not address the allegations. The inquiry was first reported by The Associated Press.

    Officials at the order followed the existing canonical procedures and brought these cases, “which for the most part date back decades,” to the attention of Vatican authorities, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said in a statement.

    With nearly 900 priests and 70,000 lay members worldwide, the order was founded by Father Maciel in Mexico in 1941. Over the decades, the charismatic leader, who was a prodigious fund-raiser, built it up into a wealthy and politically influential group, and Pope John Paul II singled out Father Maciel as the model for dynamic priesthood.

    But that legacy crumbled when revelations emerged that Father Maciel had fathered several children, abused seminarians and misappropriated funds. In 2006, Pope Benedict XVI removed Father Maciel from priestly duties and restricted him to a life of prayer and penance. He died two years later.

    In 2010, the pope decided against dissolving the order and instead appointed his own delegate to oversee it and make reforms. The Vatican said at the time that the majority of Legionaries had been unaware of Father Maciel’s double life, “a life devoid of scruple and of genuine religious sentiment.”

    But many critics contend that the order’s leaders must have known of the wrongdoings of Father Maciel, who was born in Mexico and began his religious empire there. A request for an investigation brought to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1998 was quashed a year later by the current pope, who was then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and head of the Congregation. He reopened the inquiry in 2004.

    The Legionaries said Friday that the order examined all accusations — or well-founded suspicions — it received involving its members, even as it reached out to victims and sought to protect the rights of those involved. It also said that in some cases the police had carried out preliminary investigations.

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    Of the seven cases referred to the Congregation at the Vatican, all but one involved sexual abuse dating back decades. One case referred to more recent abuse, the Legionaries said.

    The cases of two other priests accused of other crimes had also been referred to the Congregation.

    The Legionaries also said that civil or canonical investigations had exonerated an unspecified number of priests accused of abuse, but did not elaborate.

    In all cases, the priests accused of wrongdoing have been restricted in their ministries for the duration of the investigation, though this did not constitute an admission of guilt. “The protection of children and of communities is of the utmost importance for the Legion,” the statement said.

    In Mexico, people who said they had been victimized by the order have sought to keep up pressure on the church. During the pope’s visit to Mexico in March, the victims demanded a meeting with the pontiff, and a book was released detailing multiple cases of abuse by Father Maciel.

    “As with everything in the Vatican, it comes many years too late,” Roberto Blancarte, a professor and expert on the Mexican Catholic Church at Colegio de México, said of the latest inquiry.

    Karla Zabludovsky contributed reporting from Mexico City.

    A version of this article appeared in print on May 12, 2012, on page A4 of the New York edition with the headline: Vatican Inquiry Casts New Shadow on Order.


  7. Popular Priest Fathered Child and Says He’ll Step Aside

    By LAURIE GOODSTEIN, New York Times May 15, 2012

    A telegenic American priest, widely known for his media commentary from Rome on popes, prayer and personal morality, has publicly acknowledged having an affair and fathering a child — the latest jolt to hit his scandal-torn religious order, the Legionaries of Christ.

    The priest, the Rev. Thomas D. Williams, apologized in a statement on Tuesday “for this grave transgression” and “to everyone who is hurt by this revelation.” He said he would take a year off from public ministry to reflect on his transgressions and his “commitments as a priest” — a decision he said he made with his superiors.

    Father Williams was the most visible American member of the Legionaries, a powerful and conservative Roman Catholic religious order that has been in turmoil since 2006, when its charismatic founder was banished by the Vatican to a life of prayer and penance.

    The order’s founder, a Mexican priest named Marciel Maciel Degollado, died in 2008 amid revelations that he had sexually abused young seminarians, misappropriated money and fathered several children, some of whom say they were also victims of his sexual abuse. Only last Friday, the Legion acknowledged that seven of its priests are being investigated by the Vatican in connection with the sexual abuse of minors.

    Pope Benedict XVI appointed a delegate in 2010 to oversee the order. Although priests have been abandoning the Legion, it still claims 800 priests and thousands of laypeople in Regnum Christi, an affiliated group.

    The Rev. Luis Garza, the order’s leader in North America, said in a statement to the members: “I know that this will be shocking news to you. In the wake of all that we have been through as a Movement in the past several years, it won’t surprise me if you are disappointed, angry or feel your trust shaken once again.”

    Jim Fair, a spokesman for the Legion, said the order had not paid any financial support to the child or the mother. He added that Father Williams was staying with his parents in Michigan and was recovering from cancer surgery.

    Father Williams said in the statement issued by the Legion that his relationship occurred “a number of years ago.” The Associated Press and The National Catholic Reporter broke the news on Tuesday after learning of allegations made by a Spanish association of Legion victims about multiple sexual improprieties by Father Williams.

    Father Williams, who joined the Legion in 1985, was ordained a priest in 1994, and rose to become superior of the Legion’s general directorate in Rome. He is the author of many books on spirituality, including “Knowing Right From Wrong: A Christian Guide to Conscience,” and “The World as It Could Be: Catholic Social Thought for a New Generation.”

    In recent years, he taught ethics and Catholic social doctrine at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum, a Legion university in Rome, and served as a Vatican analyst for NBC, CBS and Sky News in Britain. During the funeral for Pope John Paul II and the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI, he was often seen on American television.

    “He was the face of the church at the time of the conclave,” said Susan Gibbs, the spokeswoman at the time for the Archdiocese of Washington and now a media consultant for Catholic organizations. “He really helped people understand how the church worked.”


  8. Legion of Christ head admits sex scandal coverup

    The Associated Press May 22, 2012

    The head of the embattled Legion of Christ religious order admitted Tuesday to covering up news that his most prominent priest had fathered a child and announced a review of all past allegations of sexual abuse against Legion priests amid a growing scandal at the order.

    The Rev. Alvaro Corcuera wrote a letter to all Legion members in which he admitted he knew before he became superior in 2005 that the Rev. Thomas Williams had fathered a child years earlier. He said he had heard rumours of the child even before then when he was rector.

    Corcuera said that after becoming superior in 2005, he confirmed Williams's paternity yet did nothing to prevent him from teaching morality to seminarians or preaching about ethics on television, in his many speaking engagements or his 14 books, including Knowing Right from Wrong: A Christian Guide to Conscience.

    Williams, for example, was the keynote speaker at a Legion-affiliated women's conference last month in the U.S.

    Williams admitted last week he had fathered the child after The Associated Press confronted the Legion with the allegation. In a new statement Tuesday, Williams said he had resisted his superiors' encouragement to keep a low profile after the allegations were known to them.

    "I foolishly thought that I had left this sin in my past, and that I could make up for some of the wrong I had done by doing the greatest good possible with the gifts God has given me. This was an error in judgment, and yet another thing I must ask your forgiveness for," he wrote.

    Williams has not identified the mother or said whether he was supporting the child or in any way involved in the child's life. The Legion has said the child is being cared for.

    Revelations of Williams's child have compounded the scandal at the Legion, which in 2009 admitted that its late founder, the Rev. Marcial Maciel, had sexually abused his seminarians and fathered three children with two women. He died in 2008.

    The scandal is particularly grave given that Maciel was held up as a model for the faithful by Pope John Paul II, who was impressed by the orthodox order's ability to attract money and young men to the priesthood.

    Maciel's double life, and the well-known problems of the cult-like order, have cast a shadow over John Paul's legacy since the Vatican knew of Maciel's crimes as early as 1950, yet he enjoyed the highest Vatican praise and access until he was finally sanctioned in 2006.

    In 2010, the Vatican took over the Legion after determining that the order itself had been contaminated by Maciel's influence and needed to be "purified." The Vatican cited problems of the Legion's culture, in which silence reigned and authority was abused, as being in need of reform, as well as the need for its constitutions to be rewritten and its charism, or essential spirit, to be defined.

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    Following an AP investigation, the Legion on May 11 admitted that seven priests were under Vatican investigation for allegedly sexually abusing minors, an indication that Maciel's crimes were not his alone. Corcuera provided an update Tuesday, saying two of those cases had been dismissed, leaving five abuse-related cases under investigation by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

    Corcuera also revealed that a Legion priest is currently under criminal investigation in the U.S. for alleged sex abuse and that three others had been cleared. Three former Legion priests have been referred to civil authorities, he said.

    In his letter Tuesday, Corcuera announced that the Legion was going to review all past cases of allegations of sexual abuse to ensure that they were handled properly. Victims of Legion priests and critics of the order have said there are many more cases of abusers, many of which have been well-known to the leadership but covered up for decades.

    "Are there other cases waiting to be discovered, more scandals ready to attack your faith and trust? I can never say for sure," Corcuera wrote. "I can, however, tell you that we are following the lead of Pope Benedict XVI in dealing with abuse and sexual misconduct in the Legion."

    Corcuera's letter is unlikely to stem the outrage among the members of the Legion's lay branch Regnum Christi, for whom Williams was a major point of reference in the United States and a top public defender of Maciel when the allegations of his crimes were levelled years ago. Many had forgiven the Legion for its decades of deception concerning Maciel, thinking it was an isolated case. The recent revelations show otherwise. Corcuera said that after confirming in 2005 that Williams had indeed fathered the child, he asked him to start withdrawing from his public work. But only in 2010 did he limit Williams's work as a priest. Williams, however, continued to write books, speak at conventions, author articles and, most significantly, teach morality to seminarians at the Legion's university in Rome.

    He only stopped teaching in February, abruptly, after a Spanish association of victims of the Legion forwarded the allegations against Williams to the Vatican.


  10. Abuses At Legion Of Christ-Run High School, Immaculate Conception Academy In Rhode Island

    by Nicole Winfield, Huffington Post July 9, 2012

    VATICAN CITY — Dozens of women who attended a high school run by the disgraced Legion of Christ religious order have urged the Vatican to close the program, saying the psychological abuse they endured trying to live like teenage nuns led to multiple cases of anorexia, stress-induced migraines, depression and even suicidal thoughts.

    The women sent a letter this weekend to the pope's envoy running the Legion to denounce the manipulation, deception and disrespect they say they suffered at the hands of counselors barely older than themselves at the Rhode Island school. For some, the trauma required years of psychological therapy that cost them tens of thousands of dollars.

    A copy of the letter was provided to The Associated Press by the letter's 77 signatories, a dozen of whom agreed to be interviewed about their personal problems for the sake of warning parents against sending their children to the program's schools in the U.S., Mexico and Spain.

    "I have many defining and traumatic memories that I believe epitomize the systematic breakdown of the person" in the school, Mary told The Associated Press in an email exchange. She developed anorexia after joining in 1998, weighed less than 85 pounds when she left and dropped to 68 pounds before beginning to recover at home. "The feelings of worthlessness, shame and isolation that are associated with those memories are still vivid and shocking."

    Mary, who asked that her last name not be used, blamed her eating disorder on acute loneliness – girls were prevented from making close friends or confiding in their families – and the tremendous pressure she felt as a 16-year-old to perfectly obey the strictest rules dictating how she should walk, sit, pray and eat.

    It's the latest blow to the troubled, cult-like Legion, which was discredited in 2009 when it revealed that its founder was a pedophile and drug addict who fathered three children. The Legion suffered subsequent credibility problems following its recent admission that its most famous priest had fathered a child and the current Legion superior covered it up for years.

    The Legion saga is all the more grave because its late founder, the Rev. Marcial Maciel, had been held up as a living saint by his followers and a model of holiness by Pope John Paul II because of his ability to recruit men and money to the priesthood, even though the Vatican knew for decades that he had sexually abused his seminarians.

    Pope Benedict XVI took over the Mexico-based order in 2010 and appointed envoy Cardinal Velasio De Paolis to oversee a whole-scale reform of the Legion and its lay branch Regnum Christi. But the reform hasn't progressed smoothly, with defections from disillusioned members and criticism that some superiors remain locked in their old ways.

    The all-girl Immaculate Conception Academy, located in Wakefield, Rhode Island opened two decades ago to serve as a feeder program for the Legion's female consecrated branch, where more than 700 women around the world live like nuns making promises of poverty, chastity and obedience, teaching in Legion-run schools and running youth programs.

    Because of dwindling enrollment – 14 seniors graduated last month – the school recently merged with a Legion-run school in Michigan; in Mexico two programs merged into one that produced 10 graduates this year.

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    The school's current director said things have changed dramatically recently and many of the spiritual and psychological abuses corrected. But she acknowledged the harm done, apologized for the women's suffering and asked for forgiveness.

    "For any errors made by our order in the past, we do apologize," said director Margarita Martinez. "We are sorry these young women have suffered and been harmed in any way."

    In an email response to AP, Martinez noted that not all students experienced the same "level of negativity" as those who wrote the letter, and that regardless the movement was listening to everyone's experiences as it undergoes a process of Vatican-mandated reform.

    Megan Coelho, 30, recalled how pairs of consecrated women would visit her regularly as a child in northern California where she was homeschooled; they told her tales of the wonderful high school in Rhode Island where she might find a vocation and grow closer to God. Coelho, who wanted to be a nun, left home when she was 14 to join.

    By junior year, the occasional migraines she had suffered became frequent and debilitating as pressure to conform to the rules and highly structured schedule increased. The migraines would paralyze one side of her body, making her collapse at times. She developed facial tics. Her eyesight became blurry.

    "As sweet as they (her consecrated directors) were I was counseled not to tell my parents about it because then my parents would take me home," she said, referring to the movement's goal of keeping members at almost any cost. "No one contacted my family. Nobody took me to the ER or got me a doctor's appointment."

    Eventually, Coelho got so sick she returned home, and the migraines stopped. Feeling better she returned, only to suffer a migraine her first day back. She left for good six months before graduation.

    Coehlo's story is the first on a blog she and other former pre-candidates, as the girls were known, started this past spring, a seemingly cathartic experience since many had never shared their pain with their onetime classmates. The blog, , is an astonishing read – testimony of a twisted and cruel methodology applied to girls at their most vulnerable age, when even under normal circumstances girls are prone to self-esteem issues, peer pressure and bouts of depression. www.49weeks.blogspot.com

    Instead of finding support from friends and family, these teenagers were isolated from their families 49 weeks a year, told to unquestioningly trust their spiritual directors and confide only in them. Obedience to the minutest of rules, they were taught, reflected their acceptance of God's will.

    They write about their feelings of inadequacy, humiliation and loneliness, and of idolizing their smiling consecrated counselors. They paint the depths of their depression when seemingly overnight they were told they didn't have a vocation and should go home.

    "Looking back, I was suicidal," said Sarita Duffy, now a 28-year-old mother of three in Fort Cambpbell, Kentucky. "I never took a bottle of pills or slit my wrists, but I was fully content with the possibility of never waking up again."

    In a phone interview, Duffy said she equated being rejected by the movement with being rejected by God, and lost her Catholic faith for years as a result. She acknowledged she can't blame the movement for all her problems but said the "zero self-worth" she felt after being rejected precipitated her descent into depression and rebellion.

    "Why do you hate me God? I hate me," Duffy wrote in her journal on June 10, 2002, four years after she entered as a freshman and about a week before she received the final "no" to work in the movement's missionary program.

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    One of the blog entries was written by Lourdes Martinez, a former counselor or formator at the school from 2000-2005. She admitted that she and her consecrated colleagues would classify the girls into potential leaders, "normals" and those who should be sent home. This would enable the directors and counselors under them to manipulate the girls and prey on their vulnerabilities, giving special attention to those they wanted to keep as potential consecrated leaders and devise strategies to get rid of those they wanted to send home, she said.

    Often, information from the weekly reports written about each girl's development would be shared with the priests who heard her confession – a striking violation of privacy. The priests could then reinforce the directors' decisions in confession with the girls, she said.

    "So she's hearing this from everyone and thinks it's the Holy Spirit talking. And we would say `Yes, of course,'" Martinez told the AP in a phone interview from Monterrey, Mexico.

    Martinez described an almost "Lord of the Flies"-like situation in which the counselors were barely older than the girls under their care, with no experience in adolescent development. The counselors themselves lived with the fear that they must obey the rules and their superiors or risk violating God's will.

    Martinez signed the letter to De Paolis because she wanted to show solidarity with those who suffered. But she stressed that she believes the reform will work because she knows and trusts the new leadership and is working with them to improve.

    Not everyone suffered so much, and not everyone has joined the call to close the program; of the 270-odd people on a closed Facebook group that served as the basis for the blog, 77 signed the letter.

    And by many indications, things have changed dramatically for the better at the school, with girls allowed more time with families and much less emphasis on sticking to the rules.

    "People who are going into the pre-candidacy and are starting out will not find the same experience as those people did," said Sasha Jurchak, 25, who left consecrated life in May because she simply decided it wasn't for her – not because of any problem with the program.

    In an interview, she noted that De Paolis has instituted new regulations that forbid consecrating girls as young as 18 after a six-week candidacy program. The new rules require a years-long process of assessment similar to that of traditional religious orders. Recruitment is no longer the primary aim, she said. The girls' mail is no longer screened and they have more free time. Girls can wear shorts and pants for athletic activities instead of long skirts and stockings.

    Margarita Martinez, the school director, said other changes include better reflection from counselors on when to invoke "God's will" in requiring something of the girls.

    She disputed claims that the school failed to provide adequate medical care for sick girls, saying the policy has always been to notify parents and get proper care.

    Asked if Regnum Christi was prepared to provide financial assistance to women who needed psychological counseling when they left, she said each case would need to be considered individually.

    "The reform process has taken time. It has been a learning process for everyone involved. And we still have a long way to go," she wrote. "But I strongly believe we are moving in the right direction, with the Holy Spirit as our guide."

    The letter to De Paolis from alumni said it's too risky to wait and see how it all turns out.

    "Today's girls deserve more than to be guinea pigs during the experimental stages of the reform process which may or may not prove in the end to be authentic," it concluded.

    Regnum Christi is at http://www.regnumchristi.org


  13. John Paul II Cleared For Sainthood By Pope Francis

    By NICOLE WINFIELD, Huffington Post July 5, 2013

    VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis on Friday cleared two of the 20th century's most influential popes to become saints, approving a miracle needed to canonize Pope John Paul II and waiving Vatican rules to honor Pope John XXIII.

    In a major demonstration of his papal authority, Francis decided that John XXIII could be declared a saint even though the Vatican hasn't confirmed a second miracle attributed to his intercession. The Vatican said Francis had the power to dispense with such requirements and proceed with only one confirmed miracle to his name.

    The ceremony is expected before the end of the year. The date of Dec. 8 has been floated as one possibility, given it's the feast of the Immaculate Conception, a major feast day for the church. Polish prelates continue to press for October, to mark the 35th anniversary of the Polish-born John Paul's election, but Vatican officials have suggested that's too soon to organize such a massive event.

    The announcement came on a remarkable day melding papacies past and present: It opened with Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI attending their first Vatican ceremony together, sitting side-by-side on matching papal chairs for the unveiling of a statue in the Vatican gardens. It continued with the publication of Francis' first encyclical, a meditation on faith that was largely written by Benedict before he retired. And it climaxed with Francis' decision to canonize two other predecessors.

    Each event, historic on its own, would have captured headlines. But the canonization announcement capped them all, reflecting the priorities of this unique pontificate that has already broken so many rules, from Francis' decision to shun papal vestments to his housing arrangements, living in the Vatican hotel rather than the stuffy Apostolic Palace.

    To anyone who has been paying attention, Francis' decision to canonize John Paul and John XXIII should come as no surprise: The Jesuit was made a cardinal by John Paul and is very much a pope of the Second Vatican Council, the ground-breaking church meetings that brought the Catholic Church into the modern world. John XXIII opened Vatican II a year before his death in 1963.

    "Two different popes, very important to the church, will be announced saint together - it's a beautiful gesture," said the Rev. Jozef Kloch, spokesman for Poland's Catholic bishops, who like most Poles was overjoyed by the news of John Paul's impending canonization but impatient to know the date.

    Francis will set the date at an upcoming meeting of cardinals.

    The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, confirmed that the miracle that brought John Paul to the ranks of saints concerned a Costa Rican woman.

    The Spanish newspaper La Razon has identified her as Floribeth Mora, and said she suffered from a cerebral aneurism that was inexplicably cured on May 1, 2011 – the date of John Paul's beatification, when 1.5 million people filled St. Peter's Square to honor the beloved Polish pontiff.

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  14. La Razon reported last month that Mora awoke with debilitating head pain on April 8, 2011 and went to the hospital, where her condition worsened to the point that she was sent home with only a month to live.

    Her family prayed to John Paul, and the aneurism disappeared.

    La Razon quoted her doctor, Dr. Alejandro Vargas, as saying: "It surprised me a lot that the aneurism disappeared, I can't explain it based on science."

    The Associated Press traveled to Mora's home in Costa Rica this week, but was told that she was bound by secrecy and couldn't discuss her case. With the miracle now approved by Francis, she planned to tell her story Friday at a press conference organized by the Costa Rican church. Outside her home is a colorful shrine to John Paul, with a photo of the late pope next to a statue of the Madonna and surrounded by flowers, candles and Christmas lights.

    John Paul, who was pope from 1978-2005, revolutionized the papacy, traveling the world and inspiring a generation of young Catholics to be excited about their faith. He was the first Polish pope and the first non-Italian in 455 years – a legacy that continued with the German-born Benedict XVI and Argentine Francis.

    On the anniversary of John Paul's death this year, Francis prayed at the tombs of both John Paul and John XXIII – an indication that he sees a great personal and spiritual continuity in them.

    Benedict spent much of his pontificate trying to correct what he considered wrong interpretations of Vatican II, insisting it wasn't the break from the past that liberals believed. The council opened the church to people of other faiths and allowed for Mass to be celebrated in the languages of the faithful, rather than Latin.

    While not disagreeing outright with Benedict, Francis seems to take a more progressive read of Vatican II and its call to go out into the world and spread the faith – a priority he has shown in the first months of his pontificate.

    The two popes, however, clearly get along.

    "Your holiness, good day and thank you!" Francis beamed on Friday as he greeted Benedict in the Vatican gardens for the unveiling of the statue. Benedict, 86, appeared in good form, walking slowly but on his own and greeting well-wishers.

    The Vatican's complicated saint-making procedure requires that the Vatican certify a "miracle" was performed through the intercession of the candidate – a medically inexplicable cure that is lasting, immediate and can be directly linked to the prayers offered by the faithful. One miracle is needed for beatification, a second for canonization.

    Benedict put John Paul on the fast track for possible sainthood when he dispensed with the traditional five-year waiting period and allowed the beatification process to begin weeks after his John Paul's death. Benedict was responding to chants of "Santo Subito!" or "Sainthood Immediately" which erupted during John Paul's funeral.

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  15. There has been some concern that the process has been too quick. Some of the Holy See's deep-seated problems – clerical sex abuse, dysfunctional governance and more recently the financial scandals at the Vatican bank – essentially date from shortcomings of his pontificate.

    Thus the decision to canonize John Paul along with John XXIII can be seen as trying to balance those concerns, as well as the shortcomings of each pope.

    Such was the case in 2000, when John Paul beatified John XXIII, dubbed the "good pope," alongside Pope Pius IX, who was criticized by Jews for condoning the seizure of a Jewish boy and allegedly referring to Jews as dogs.

    As soon as the announcement was made, John Paul's critics came out: Juan Vaca, one of the victims of notorious pedophile priest the Rev. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ religious order, said the decision to canonize John Paul was "appalling and shocking" given the thousands of victims of sex abuse who were ignored under his 27-year pontificate.

    The Vatican has argued that sainthood cases are based on the record of the person, not the pontificate.

    The Rev. James Martin, a Catholic author, said the joint announcement could be seen as a clever move on Francis' part to cover his political bases, but that regardless millions of Catholics would rejoice.

    "The two popes are seen to appeal to different types of Catholics, and so this announcement will serve to unite these groups," he wrote on the website of the Jesuit magazine America.

    Asked how John XXIII, elected in 1958, could be canonized without a second miracle, the Vatican spokesman insisted that many theologians believe that a second miracle isn't required. He said Francis had approved a decision by the cardinals and bishops of the Vatican's saint-making office.

    "Certainly the pope has the power, in a certain sense, to dispense of the second miracle in a cause, and this is what happened," Lombardi said.

    He stressed that this decision didn't represent any relaxing of the Vatican's overall standards for canonization, but represented a unique situation, given that the church this year is marking the 50th anniversary of Vatican II.

    "John XXIII is someone who we know is beloved in the church, we're in the 50th anniversary of the Council which he started, and I don't think any of us have any doubts about his virtues," Lombardi said.

    In Poland, the reaction was overjoyed, as expected.

    Rev. Kazimierz Sowa, the head of Religion TV channel, said on TVN that Poles are expected to flood to Rome for the ceremony.

    "John Paul II was extremely popular during his lifetime and he still continues to inspire people," Sowa said. But he insisted that an October date was preferable, to accommodate the throngs expected at the outdoor ceremony.

    "In their interest, I think we should expect the canonization in the fall," he said.