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Pope appoints delegate to supervise Legionaries of Christ

July 09, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, the president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, as his delegate to supervise reform efforts in the Legion of Christ.

Pope Benedict had announced his plan to appoint a pontifical delegate for the Legionaries in April, after an apostolic visitation of the order concluded with a report calling for “profound re-evaluation” of the Legionaries.

The visitation, conducted by five bishops, probed the effects of misconduct by the Legionaries’ founder, the late Father Marcial Maciel Degollado. In their report to the Pope, the five bishops said that Father Maciel had created a structure to protect himself from scrutiny as he indulged in sexual and financial misconduct. The results of the apostolic visitation left questions as to whether the order could survive the devastation caused by the exposure of the founder’s scandalous behavior, and whether any current leaders of the Legionaries were complicit in Father Maciel’s misconduct.

The appointment of Archbishop De Paolis had been rumored for nearly a month. The Italian prelate’s background in canon law gives him an expertise that could be useful in revising the official statutes of the troubled order. His experience in financial affairs will give him an advantage in probing the use of the Legionaries’ considerable wealth.

In a statement welcoming the appointment, the current leaders of the Legionaries said that they would “put themselves completely at the disposal of Archbishop de Paolis.”


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