Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, speaks at a conference in Madrid, Spain, in this photo dated Oct. 6, 2001. CNS photo/J.L. Pino, EFE

Legionaries of Christ to receive Vatican-appointed advisor

By  Francis X. Rocca, Catholic News Service
  • June 24, 2014

VATICAN CITY - The Vatican will name a special "assistant" to advise the leadership of the troubled Legionaries of Christ, whose revised constitutions Pope Francis has still not approved four months after they were submitted to him.

Fr. Eduardo Robles Gil, general director of the Legionaries, made the announcement in a video message sent to the congregation's members June 22 and now accessible on YouTube.

Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz and Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo, respectively prefect and secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, informed Robles Gil of the plan for an advisor at a recent meeting, the general director said.

"We asked if this assistant would have a role in government, but we were told that no, our government was autonomous," Robles Gil said in the video.

The general director said he had not been told the identity of the assistant, but hoped to learn more at a July 3 meeting with the cardinal and archbishop. Robles Gil said he also hoped to find out "how the constitutions are coming along, and if there is something we need to adapt or change."

The Legionaries' extraordinary general chapter, which closed Feb. 25, approved a new constitution that requires final approval by the Pope, and chose Robles Gil as the congregation's first elected leader after nearly four years of Vatican-supervised reform.

The seven-week gathering of 61 Legionary priests from 11 countries also issued a letter condemning the "reprehensible and objectively immoral behaviour" of the congregation's founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, citing his "abuse of minor seminarians," "immoral acts with adult men and women," "arbitrary use of his authority and of material goods," "indiscriminate consumption of addictive medicines" and plagiarism.

The chapter was the culmination of a reform process that began with a Vatican-ordered apostolic visitation in 2009. That investigation was prompted by revelations that Maciel, who died in 2008, had fathered at least one illegitimate child and sexually abused boys in his own seminaries.

In 2010, the Vatican announced that Maciel had been guilty of "seriously and objectively immoral behaviour" and "real crimes," and had lived a "life devoid of scruples and of genuine religious meaning." That same year, Pope Benedict XVI named Cardinal Velasio De Paolis to supervise the Legionaries' reform.

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