Legionaries' superior steps down
October 11, 2012
The superior general of the Legion of Christ has announced that he is stepping down from his post as head of the troubled religious order.
Father Alvaro Corcuera explained, in a letter to members of the order, that “I do not have the health and energy necessary” to continue leading the Legionaries through a process of reform mandated by the Vatican. He said that he was not suffering from any particular physical illness, but lacked the strength to continue the process of reform, which he described as a “path of suffering, still difficult and complex, but full of hope.”
Father Corcuera said that he was leaving the administration of the Legion in the hands of his vicar general, Father Sylvester Heereman, until a new superior general is elected. However the outgoing leader also pointed out that under the terms imposed by the Vatican for reform of the order, all major decisions are subject to the approval of the Pope’s delegate, Cardinal Velasio De Paolis.
In a separate statement Cardinal De Paolis accepted Father Corcuera’s decision with regret, but said that the move was “necessary for the good of the Legion and Father Alvaro himself.” The papal delegate also disclosed that he had made the suggestion that Father Corcuera should step down, citing the strain on his health.
Advocates of a sweeping reform within the Legion of Christ had called for the removal of Father Corcuera, who had longstanding ties with the disgraced founder of the order, the late Father Marcial Maciel. Critics of the Legionaries questioned how anyone close to Father Maciel could have remained unaware of the founder’s double life, and whether true reform of the Legionaries could be led by priests who had been members of Father Maciel’s inner circle.
Father Heereman, a native of Germany, was not a ranking administrator under Father Maciel’s leadership. He was ordained to the priesthood in 2006, and became vicar general in February of this year.
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