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Legionaries elect new leader, apologize to Maciel's victims

February 06, 2014

The Legionaries of Christ have elected a new leader, and issued a statement apologizing to the victims of the late Father Marcial Maciel and acknowledging that the order was guilty of “excessive exaltation” of its founder.

Father Eduardo Robles Gil, a Mexican priest, was elected director general of the Legionaries by the general chapter of the order, meeting in Rome. His election was confirmed by Archbishop José Rodriguez Carballo, the secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for Religious.

In a statement released on February 6 along with the announcement of the order’s new leadership, the Legionaries addressed the difficulties that the order has experienced since the revelations that Father Maciel had led a double life. The statement says that “we hope to be able to redeem our painful history and overcome with good the consequences of evil.”

The Legionaries’ statement acknowledges the damage that Father Maciel did, and expresses “our the arbitrary use of his authority and of material goods, the indiscriminate consumption of addictive medicines and the act of presenting writings published by third parties as his own.” The group says that the behavior of the founder, who maintained an appearance of piety while engaging in grossly immoral behavior, was “incomprehensible.”

The statement also acknowledges that other members of the Legion defended their leader for too long in the face of mounting evidence. As a group, the statement says, the order “gave undue, universal value of Father Maciel’s directives.” The new leadership apologizes to the founder’s victims, saying: “We are grieved that many victims and other affected persons have waited so long in vain for an apology and an act of reconciliation on the part of Father Maciel.”

However, despite the perfidy of the founder, the Legionaries insist that their order, which was modeled on Father Maciel’s orders and guidance, can recover from the damage. Rejecting suggestions that the Legionaries should be disbanded, the statement says that “a religious congregation and its essential features do not have their origin in the person of the founder; they are a gift of God that the Church accepts and approves and that afterwards live in the institute and in its members.”

Father Robles, the new director general, echoed that sentiment in his own personal statement. “We can’t erase the past,” he said. “We have to learn the lessons, mourn what occurred, trust in God’s mercy and, like St. Paul, run forward in pursuit of the goal of reaching Christ.” Father Robles has served various positions in the leadership of the Legionaries in Spain, Brazil, Chile, and his native Mexico. In 2011 he was appointed by Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, the Pope’s personal representative, to head a committee reaching out to the victims of Father Maciel.

In announcing their new leadership, the Legionaries said that a thorough investigation had been done of the order’s past leadership, and the degree to which other priests had been complicit with Father Maciel. The statement said that these investigations have now been concluded.


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  • Posted by: Frodo1945 - Feb. 08, 2014 9:28 PM ET USA

    So, they resolved 12 victim cases. That is not even a good start. And They found no embezzlements or irregularities? This is not believable. Same old same old.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 07, 2014 3:02 PM ET USA

    "New leadership" ? But wasn't Father Robles in "various positions in the leadership" in 4 countries, including Mexico. Maciel's home base, so to speak? Either Robles 1) knew what was going on but tacitly consented and then prevaricated throughout the purported investigations, in which case he was part of the problem and perhaps liable to prosecution, or 2) he didn't know what was going on, in which case he is grossly incompetent. This is an absurd result.

  • Posted by: koinonia - Feb. 07, 2014 9:07 AM ET USA

    This "excessive exaltation" is a tendency that runs counter to the virtue of temperance. Unfortunately the case of the Legionaries is particularly egregious and harmful. Catholics must be courageous in facing reality and in ordering their lives properly. The cults of personality are distractions and the intemperance leads souls astray. The baptized must identify with Christ the Lord; to him we owe honor and glory. Those who serve the Master well give testimony to him; this is their glory.

  • Posted by: feedback - Feb. 06, 2014 9:44 PM ET USA

    The order acknowledged “excessive exaltation” of its founder. There are very good reasons why the Church declares Saints only after they have completed the course of their journey through this valley of tears.

  • Posted by: hartwood01 - Feb. 06, 2014 8:57 PM ET USA

    ..."a religious congregation and it's essential features do not have their origin in the person of the founder;they are a gift of God that the Church accepts and approves..." Was there any other depraved founder of such a community in history? Who would swallow this nonsense other than a Legionnaire?

  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Feb. 06, 2014 6:45 PM ET USA

    This is outrageous. Robles was very close to Maciel, his protegé many assert, and this fact alone should alarm us. The founder of the Legion engaged in serious criminal activities for decades, and those around him looked the other way. Robles' election tells me nothing substantial has changed. The Legion should have been disbanded by the Vatican; instead, it is being allowed to continue after a wan apology and the election of a Maciel stalwart. As I said, this is simply outrageous!