Monday, January 3, 2011

Legionaries of Christ, that of child rapist Marcial Maciel, turn 70; Mexican Church ends truce

After a brief Christmas "truce" (the church´s own word), the Mexican Catholic Church is again on the attack, in the process sounding like a prepubescent, immature 11-year old. From its organ Desde La Fe, the Mexican Catholic Church, among the world´s most reactionary and historically anti-democratic, comes the following: The Mexico City government and/or the Mexico City Legislature (the Church never seems to be able to distinguish fully between the two) are "true secular Talibans," and
"individuals intolerant to criticism, fundamentalists in their immoral principles, incapable of accepting the challenge of dialogue with rationality and law."
A better description of the Mexican Church, rather than the Mexico City government, is hard to come by. The Freudian reference here is just too tempting to resist.

But today is also another important day for the Church: The Legionaries of Christ/Legion of Christ is turning 70 years today. Los Legionarios de Cristo, to recall, was founded by whom?
a) A fascist
b) A child raper
c) An incestuous pedophile raping his own childen
d) A morphine junkie
e) All of the above.

You got it: All of the above. Marcial Maciel founded the Legionaries in 1940, yet his name has brought shame to his native Michoacán ever since the scandals involving his habitual raping of children and teenage boys, which even included his own children - yes, he fathered several, though never accepted paternity - really became known to the wider public in 2000.

Yet back to the Mexican Church. I am currently reading the absolutely marvelous and fresh-off-the press book "Marcial Maciel: The Story of a Criminal" by Mexican journalist Carmen Aristegui. I am not done with it yet, but it appears absolutely stunning, and well worth your time and money. Among the key testimonies in this book, a key conclusion is drawn that while Marciel Maciel was a sick and evil man - he never asked for forgiveness, manipulating his victims into believing they were doing god´s will - an even bigger story is that ever since the 1950s, stories abounded, including letters to the Vatican, detailing the abuses of Maciel, yet they were constantly ignored, for a half century, by both the Vatican and the Mexican Church. Indeed, two of the individuals who come out the worst are exactly Norberto Rivera, head of the Mexican Church, who defended Maciel to the extreme, covering up his abused of hundreds or thousands of children, as well as Ratzinger himself, who accepted that Maciel was doing bad things, yet argued, as cardinal, that he was nonetheless beloved by Pope John Paul II, and that the case was better left alone. Only toward the end of the 2000s did the Church admit to Maciel crimes, though this is hardly the end of it: As Aristegui exposes, the Legion and the Vatican may have erased the image of Macial from its annals, yet the organization remains intact, as does the vertical, authoritarian structures that allowed for the abuse in the first place.

It will be up to others to outline the legal responsibility of Ratzinger and Norberto Rivera for having essentially protected a child raper, knowing full well that Marcial Maciel was one. Yet it certainly puts into perspective the church´s recent declarations against the Mexico City Government


  1. Martina Kealy1/04/2011 12:35 AM

    Yes. You are right. The organisation, the Legionaries of Christ the Lay Consecrated and the Lay Regnum Christi groups are still there. But the structures and the rules are under review in Rome. Some progress has already been made. For example the rule of not speaking ill of a superior is no longer enforced. Maciel was abused himself as a Child which led to deranged behaviour in adulthood. In a sense he was wrongly deicised and trusted by his community to the point of innocence. No questions asked. Very wrong. Yet there was fruit left behind. Young priests and consecrated who have devoted their lives to Christ not to a man. Myself and my family husband and four children have been Regnum Christi members in Dublin, Ireland for over 10 years. We have received Spiritual Direction, Marriage Enrichment courses with renewal of Marriage Vows, Parenting Courses, Youth clubs with recreation and formation for our children. Guided Pilgrimages. Inspiring sermons that glow of deep formation. These vocations need to be protected and encouraged. They belong to Christ. The media continues to annihalate the Legionaries. Its like saying to them. Your founder was a Paedophile so therefore you too are condemned. They have to pick up their lives with the sad truth of what happened and carry on living out their vocations. Thankyou. Martina Kealy

  2. Martina,
    like I said before, there can be no minimizing Maciel's crimes and sins, no shirking of responsibility. The numbers of child sexual abuse victims is staggering; some say, one in three girls and one in five boys; Ireland would be no exception, I am sorry to say as a fellow Dubliner. Fortunately, only a small proportion of child victims become abusers when they get older. So the fact that Maciel MAY have been abused as a child/youth is no excuse.
    Indeed, the "fruits" of Marcial Maciel gives us pause, give me pause, even as one of his harshest critiques. I am still meditating on the words of Jesus: "Can a good tree produce bad fruits, and a bad tree good fruits." This also gives me pause. What exactly is the deep good that the Legion/Regnum does? What kind of Catholics does it produce? I venture that it gives middle and upper class Catholics the assurance they will go to heaven if they just perform certain acts, certain acts of piety that make them feel they are "good Catholics", without letting go of their riches and without contributing to changes for a more equitable and just society; the Garzas, Medinas, and Sada continue to be the richest people in Mexico. There has been no real renunciation of their riches to follow Jesus. Luis Garza Medina continues to manage millions, and managing millions is power, and glory...

  3. Martina Kealy1/04/2011 5:00 PM

    Paul. I acknowledge what you are saying. There are no excuses for what happened to the Founder. I have outlined what activities the Legionaries still do on the ground in Ireland and I see nothing wrong with them. I have witnessed them first hand. Is it right to annihilate an order just because of the grave sins of their Founder. I don't think so. But then I have never been hurt or abused