VATICAN CITY – The Legion of Christ religious order, already discredited forconcealing the crimes of its pedophile founder, suffered anotherblow to its credibility Tuesday after its superior admitted he knewin 2005 that his most prominent priest had fathered a child, yetallowed him to keep teaching and preaching about morality. The admission by the Rev. Alvaro Corcuera is likely to enragemembers of the Legion and its lay branch who have endured years ofapologies, hypocrisy and explanations for the crimes of theCatholic order’s founder, the Rev. Marcial Maciel, who sexuallyabused his seminarians and fathered three children with two women.
The Rev. Thomas Williams, the public face of the Legion in America,admitted last week that he had violated his vow of celibacy andfathered a child several years ago, going public with a statementafter The Associated Press presented the Legion with theaccusation. On Tuesday, Corcuera wrote a letter to all Legion members admittingthat he had heard rumors of the child before he became superior in2005, but took Williams’ word that they were false. Williams is awell-known U.S.
television personality, author and moraltheologian. Corcuera said that after becoming superior in 2005, he confirmedWilliams’ paternity and asked him to withdraw from public ministry.Yet he did nothing to prevent him from teaching morality toseminarians or preaching about ethics on television, in his manyspeaking engagements or in his 14 books, including “Knowing Rightfrom Wrong: A Christian Guide to Conscience.” Williams, for example, remained dean of the theology department atthe Legion’s university in Rome until 2007 — two years afterCorcuera knew about the child. As chancellor of the university,Corcuera could have ousted him, yet Williams taught theology upuntil this past February when he was finally removed. Corcuera said he placed restrictions on Williams’ ministry in 2010,but as recently as last month Williams was the keynote speaker at aLegion-affiliated women’s conference in the U.S. state of RhodeIsland and was scheduled to speak at another conference in Octoberin Michigan. Lipo Laser Slimming Machine
In his letter Tuesday, Corcuera admitted that he “was not diligentin setting proper restrictions and enforcing them.” In a new statement Tuesday, Williams said he had resistedCorcuera’s encouragement to keep a low profile, saying he had hopedto move beyond the child — “this sin in my past” — todo good work for the church. “I foolishly thought that I had left this sin in my past, and thatI could make up for some of the wrong I had done by doing thegreatest good possible with the gifts God has given me,” Williamswrote in an email to Legion members that was obtained by the AP.”This was an error in judgment, and yet another thing I must askyour forgiveness for.” Williams, who is said by friends to be suffering from cancer,hasn’t identified the mother or said whether he is supporting thechild or taking part in the child’s upbringing. The Legion has saidthe child is being cared for. Williams has said he is taking a yearoff to ponder his commitment to the priesthood. Long Pulse ND YAG Laser
For years, the Legion denied allegations that Maciel abused hisseminarians and tried to publicly discredit those who went publicwith their accusations in 1997. The telegenic Williams was one ofMaciel’s prime defenders. After the Legion came clean about Maciel’s double life in 2009,many had forgiven the leadership for its deception, thinking it wasan isolated case. But Tuesday’s revelations that Corcuera knew ofWilliams’ child indicated otherwise — that covering up forthe sins and crimes of errant priests was part of the Legion’sproblematic culture of silence and obedience. “I cannot foresee what this means to the future of thecongregation, for their existence hinges on political expediencyrather that the greater moral good,” Genevieve Kineke, who runs ablog about the Legion aimed at helping those who leave, said in anemail. IPL Beauty Equipment
“It does seem to eliminate any remaining vestiges of realauthority for Fr. Corcuera, and makes authentic reform all theharder.” A U.S. victims’ group, Survivors’ Network of those Abused byPriests, called for Pope Benedict XVI to oust Corcuera, saying ifthe pope wants “a more holy and pure and safe church, he can’t keepignoring or rewarding serious wrongdoing.” Maciel, who founded the Legion in 1941 in Mexico, died in 2008. The scandal surrounding the Legion is particularly grave given thatMaciel was held up as a model for the faithful by Pope John PaulII, who was impressed by the orthodox order’s ability to attractmoney and young men to the priesthood.
Maciel’s double life, and the continuing problems of the cult-likeorder, have cast a shadow over John Paul’s legacy since the Vaticanknew of Maciel’s crimes as early as the mid-1950s, yet he continuedto enjoy the highest Vatican praise and access until he was finallysanctioned by Rome in 2006. In 2010, the Vatican took over the Legion after determining thatthe order itself had been contaminated by Maciel’s influence andneeded to be “purified” through a process of reform that is underway. The Vatican hasn’t responded to the latest revelations, butlast week issued a statement to the AP saying it still had faith inthe pope’s delegate running the order, while acknowledging thereform was long and complex precisely because it has to bethorough. Following an AP investigation, the Legion on May 11 admitted thatseven priests were under Vatican investigation for allegedlysexually abusing minors and other sacramental violations.
Five ofthe seven concern sex abuse accusations, the Legion clarifiedTuesday. Two concern violations believed to involve usingconfession or spiritual direction to have inappropriate sexualrelations with women. In his letter Tuesday, Corcuera announced that the Legion was goingto review all past cases of allegations of sexual abuse to ensurethat they were handled properly. Victims of Legion priests andcritics of the order have said there are many more cases of abuserswhich have been well-known to the leadership but covered up fordecades. “Are there other cases waiting to be discovered, more scandalsready to attack your faith and trust? I can never say for sure,”Corcuera wrote.
“I can, however, tell you that we are following thelead of Pope Benedict XVI in dealing with abuse and sexualmisconduct in the Legion.” In addition to the seven cases being investigated by the Vatican,Corcuera also revealed that a Legion priest is currently undercriminal investigation in the U.S. for alleged sex abuse and thatthree others had been cleared. Three former Legion priests havebeen referred to civil authorities, he said. ___ Follow Nicole Winfield at /nwinfield.