There’s no other explanation for the continuing intransigence of the Roman Catholic Church in dealing with the sexual abuses committed by its priests:
A staunchly conservative religious order favored by Pope John Paul II said Wednesday that there had been unspecified misconduct by its founder.
Legionaries of Christ’s founder Marcial Maciel was a Mexican priest who was disciplined by the Vatican several years ago after allegations from former seminarians about sexual abuse.
In a report on its Web site, the National Catholic Reporter cited four unidentified former Legionaries or supporters of the order in the United States and Mexico as saying that the order had recently told current members and supporters privately that Maciel “apparently” fathered a child out of wedlock.
Chicago-based Legionaries spokesman Jim Fair declined to comment on specific allegations but said the order had learned “surprising” things about Maciel that were “not appropriate for a Catholic priest.”
Maciel died last year in Texas at age 87.
“We’ve learned some things that are surprising and difficult to understand and in fact there are aspects of his life that obviously were not appropriate for a Catholic priest,” Fair said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
“God does good sometimes through really flawed people,” Fair said, insisting that the work of the order would continue.
Maciel founded the order in 1941 in Mexico City.
The Legionaries’ conservative view, strict loyalty to Vatican teaching and its success in enrolling recruits won the admiration of John Paul. The order has been one of the fastest-growing religious orders in the Catholic church, which has been hit by a general drop in priestly vocations in many parts of the West.
But Maciel spent the last years of his life fending off the accusations by former seminarians that he had sexually abused them.
In 2006, a year after Benedict was elected pope, the Vatican said it had decided against a full-fledged church trial because of Maciel’s age and poor health. Instead Maciel was asked to lead a “reserved life of prayer and penance,” meaning the priest could not celebrate Mass in public. [here]
Maciel’s age and poor health was not the critical issue here. A full airing of the facts, a calling to account if warranted and the imposition of a punishment, even if it was a “reserved life of prayer and penance” would have gone a long way towards achieving justice for whomever Maciel’s accusers were. Supposedly, it isn’t just the welfare of its priests and its public image that concerns the Church but it does a damn poor job of showing that.
A church trial would also have provided an opportunity to express concern for and give support to Maciel’s victims and might well have encouraged other victims to come forward. This kind of response by the Romans rubs salt in the wounds of its congregants who have suffered abuse at the hands of the clergy. I wish someone would shake the hell out of Ratzinger. Until then its leaders show some hint that they know what they’re doing I think priests should be banned.
BTW, the report says he “apparently” fathered a child out of wedlock. The “out of wedlock” part is redundant.