The prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life, Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, now recognizes that since 1943 the Vatican had documents on the pedophilia of the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Marcial Maciel "Who covered it was a mafia, they were not Church", said interviewed by the Catholic magazine New life. João Braz was in Madrid a month ago to close the general assembly of the Spanish Confederation of Religious (CONFER). "I have the impression that allegations of abuse will grow, because we are only at the beginning. We've been hiding for 70 years, and this has been a huge mistake, "he says.
The Legionaries of Christ are reborn from their ashes, with a new structure, after 12 years of atonement and ten since the death of its founder, the priest Marcial Maciel, friend of several Popes and the greatest sexual predator in the recent history of the Church. Presented for years by John Paul II as an apostle of youth and pampered by countless bishops and cardinals, many of them Spaniards, Benedict XVI told him in 2006, months after the death of the Polish pontiff, to retire in Mexico for the rest of his life , dedicated "to penance and prayer". He died without asking for forgiveness two years later, when a commission of inquiry had already unequivocally revealed its criminal activities and a life of debauchery tolerated by the Vatican.
EL PAÍS published in 2006 that the legionary founder had been investigated between October 1956 and February 1959 commissioned by Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, then the great Roman inquisitor. Maciel had studied at the Pontifical University of Comillas, then based in Cantabria, where he was expelled with one of his colleagues without the Jesuits taking additional measures. The Vatican inspection was supervised by the Basque Claretian and future Cardinal Arcadio Larraona. During that time, Maciel was suspended as superior general, and expelled from Rome. Larraona sent his inspectors to the Ontaneda seminary, among other centers. He did not solve anything and Maciel returned to the old ways, with more power. Neither did Ratzinger act in 1999, despite the evidence deposited on his desk as president of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in the last Holy Office of the Inquisition.
The public knowledge of pedophilia scandals within the Legionaries of Christ, until then one of the great movements of the new Catholicism, caused the Vatican to finally dictate the so-called "zero tolerance", the slogan with which the cardinal German Ratzinger won the pontificate. They ignored him and ended up resigning the position, in a gesture unprecedented in centuries.
The punishment of Marcial Maciel and his organization was rigorous, although without reaching extinction. Among other demands, in addition to the founder's proscription, the legionaries would stop celebrating the various ephemerides of Maciel; They would have to stop calling him "our father" and ignore his name in public; eliminate from their centers all the photographs in which he was alone or with John Paul II, and stop selling his books. There was an exception due to respect for "personal freedom": those who wish to keep "in a private manner" some photograph of the founder, read his writings or listen to his lectures, could do so, but discreetly.
With this long process of purgation and purification, and eliminated the closest collaborators of Maciel, the Vatican has just given its approval to the new statutes of the Legion, which recognizes them "canonically as Societies of Apostolic Life of pontifical right" and as "A federation formed and governed collectively among the Legionaries of Christ, the Consecrated and the Consecrated Laity, with consultative vote of the laity, who will be individually associated with the Federation". Its governing body will be called the Board of Directors.
Far from losing partners, during the crisis the Legion has grown by 3%. Today there are 21,300 lay members, 526 consecrated members, 63 consecrated laymen, 1,537 legionaries of Christ and 11,584 adolescent members in an organization called the ECYD. In its educational work (154 schools, 5 international academies, 14 civil universities and 4 ecclesiastical universities), 176,000 students are trained.
In Spain, they manage the diocesan sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de Sonsoles in Ávila and hold seminars in Ontaneda (Cantabria) and Moncada (Valencia). They also have the Francisco de Vitoria University, in Pozuelo (Madrid); the network of Everest and Cumbres schools; the Highlands organization; the chain of Mano Amiga centers, and the Zenit news agency.
The denunciations of their countless victims, to those who joined later those of the women with whom the priest Maciel had had children, they increased until they became unbearable for the Vatican. No one took action. "A friend of the Pope is not processed", Those who had to intervene argued, first of all Cardinal Josep Ratzinger, today Pope Emeritus. Maciel was also his friend, as well as confessor of the Polish Pope on many occasions. "They waited for God to take them out of the quagmire with the death of John Paul II or the accused," said one of his victims and complainant, Alejandro Espinosa, who had the misfortune of being the favorite prey of the Legionary founder in the cold house. of the Ontaneda seminar (Cantabria).
Marcial Maciel Degollado (Cotija, State of Michoacán, Mexico, 1920-2008), went to saint until several of the seminarians he abused joined to cry out despair before the Vatican. "It is an effective guide for youth", said Maciel John Paul II when the denunciations were already public. Just a week before Ratzinger notified the opening of an investigation, the celebrated founder celebrated his 60 years of priesthood in an act attended by the Pope and his Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano.
Maciel arrived in Spain at the end of the 40s of the last century to extend his foundation, protected by the then Minister of Foreign Affairs of the dictator Francisco Franco, the Christian Democrat Alberto Martín Artajo. It was endorsed by Pope Pius XII, who received it in 1941, just founded, with just 21 years, the Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi, initially with the name of Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and the Virgin of Sorrows.
Ricardo Blázquez, cardinal archbishop of Valladolid and president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference (CEE), was one of the five inspectors commissioned in 2010 by Benedict XVI to purge the organization, in which other pedophiles joined the founder. Some of the victims believed then that the Pope would eliminate the Legionaries as they worked then, to re-found them with another charisma. This was stated by EL PAÍS the priest Félix Alarcón, a former Legionary in several countries, himself a victim of abuse as a child. "The Vatican received 240 documents that showed that the situation was known long before it was recognized that it was known. Our complaint is from 1988, and while Ratzinger was a cardinal, they passed this terrible hot potato to each other, without taking any action. I think the Legion as we understood it should be eliminated, "he said at his home in Madrid.
There was a precedent, with the Vatican in the forefront of guilt and penance for covering up a chain of pedophiles in the Pious Schools of Aragon, St. Joseph of Calasanz, founder of the Order of Poor Regular Clergymen, now known as Piarists. One of the pedophiles, Father Stefano Cherubini, had so much power of concealment that he became superior of the order, cornering the founder. The Piarists were punished with extinction and Calasanz died at the age of 91 in Rome still in disgrace. Eight years later, the congregation was rehabilitated. The scandal did not prevent Calasanz from being elevated to the altars. In 1948 he was declared universal patron of the Christian Schools by Pius XII.