Judge issues ruling on Legion of Christ and widow’s $60M will
CWN - September 14, 2012
A Rhode Island judge has ruled that the niece of Gabrielle Mee does not have legal standing to challenge her late aunt’s will, which left $60 million to the Legion of Christ.
The niece, who according to the ruling “had seen or spoken to her aunt only once in the 46 years before her death,” did “not seek any personal recovery in this litigation.” Instead, she contended that her aunt would not have left the funds to the Legion had she known more about the scandal surrounding Father Marcial Maciel, the order’s founder.
Mee’s husband, a bank director, died in 1985, and four years later the widow came in contact with the Legion. In 1991, according to the ruling, Mee “became a consecrated woman with the Legion of Christ,” after “the Legion of Christ waived its usual consecration requirements to allow Mrs. Mee to expeditiously become a consecrated woman within their religious community.”
Mee died in 2008, two years after the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith directed Maciel to undertake “a reserved life of penitence and prayer, relinquishing any form of public ministry.”
“Defendants argue that the scandals involving Father Maciel were disclosed to Mrs. Mee,” the judge stated; “however, plaintiffs have provided evidence disputing that fact.”
The judge add that if the niece had hypothetically had the legal standing to challenge Mee’s will, “the court would have denied” the Legion’s motion to dismiss the suit “on the undue influence, fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty claims.”
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