NEW INFORMATION ON THE LEGION CASE IN VATICAN
June 10, 2005
“Two weeks ago I reported that a recent Vatican statement about the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, which stated that there is no case against Maciel related to charges of sexual abuse nor is one foreseen, had come from the Secretariat of State rather than the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It is the doctrinal office which, under a 2001 motu proprio from Pope John Paul II, is charged with responsibility for cases of sexual abuse by a cleric against a minor.
One question that several readers asked in the wake of that report was whether the Secretariat of State acted on its own initiative, or whether it had been asked to issue a statement.
In fact, Vatican sources say, the current superior of the Legionaries of Christ, Fr. Ã�lvaro Corcuera, who succeeded Maciel in January 2005, contacted the Secretariat of State to inquire about recent media reports that an investigation against Maciel was underway. It was in response to that inquiry, sources said, that the Secretariat of State issued its statement to the Legionaries, which was subsequently confirmed by the Vatican Press Office.”
* * *
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Regain staff received the following information from a member in Europe who was concerned about the recent Legion of Christ Press Release which was faxed to CNS on Friday, May 20th, 2005. After a hasty confirmation, the Release then gathered momentum as it was picked up by wire services and news agencies in a snowball effect without proper discernment.
Monday May 23, 2005
This morning, at exactly 9am, the time when the Vatican Press Office opens, I phoned to speak directly with Fr. Ciro Benedettini, Assistant Vatican Spokesperson. I had questions regarding the communiquÃ© attributed to him regarding Fr. Maciel. Our conversation is as follows:
“That communiquÃ© does NOT come from the Holy See; it is a communiquÃ© from the Legionaries of Christ. They called me, the same as you are calling me, and they asked me if there is any communiquÃ© about the investigation, or about a possible investigation, into Fr. Maciel. I told them that the Press Office had not received any communiquÃ© about whether there is, was or will be any such investigation; that this issue does not concern the Press Office but directly concerns Monsignor Scicluna [the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faithâ€™s Promoter of Justice].”
I repeatedly asked him whether or not the communiquÃ© was from the Vatican Press Office, and he emphasized on more than three occasions that it was NOT; that the communiquÃ© comes from the Legionaries and that the only thing that he had done was to point out that the Press Office has no news about said investigation.
I insisted that the Legionaries say he was the one who gave this information he replied: “Absolutely not. They called me, and I repeat to you that what I told them, that [simply] there is no knowledge of it [the investigation] in the Press Office.”
I continued to ask him about the investigation underway directed by Monsignor Scicluna, and he answered: “You have to ask him about that directly; it is not our province.”
I commented that I was worried he had given out the communiquÃ©, because – as is well known – whoever reveals information about an investigation underway incurs excommunication “Latae Sententiae” [ipso facto], and he told me that of course he had done no such thing.
I told him that in the news articles that have appeared the Legionaries quote him as their official source and he answered: “Absolutely not, because they called me and I told them exactly the same as I have told you: that here there is nothing on record about an investigation; that corresponds to the CDF.” [Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith]
As to whether the Holy See was going to provide an official denial, he told me that, at least for today, it was NOT going to make any denial; simply because there never was any official communiquÃ© from the Holy See to begin with.
The above information is vouched for by Regain editorial staff
For further information and validation re this release, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
* * * * * * * * *
Article translated by Regain member:
LA JORNADA, MEXICO CITY
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
â€œThey are trying to protect a priest charged with pederasty by using an â€˜interventionist maneuver,â€™ claim Macielâ€™s accusers, denouncing it as a provocation by the Legionaries of Christ.â€�
â€œREPORT FROM ROME, A PLOY TO ANNUL LEGAL PROCEEDINGS AGAINST THE FOUNDER OF AnÃ¡huac UNIVERSITY.â€�
By JOSE ANTONIO ROMAN
In an unusual â€œinterventionist maneuverâ€� the religious order, the Legionaries of Christ, were setting a â€œtrapâ€� when they suggested that a statement from the Vatican indicated that there is not now nor will there be canonical proceedings against the orderâ€™s founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, who is accused of sexual abuse by several former seminarians when they were children and adolescents. There is no official statement from the Vatican, nor will there be one; the proceedings against Maciel continue in the ecclesiastical tribunals in Rome.
The order knows very well that the Catholic Church does not operate by issuing public statements, least of all when they deal with such delicate and embarrassing issues as accusations of sexual abuse against the founder of a religious group.
According to several of the victims, the Legionariesâ€™ daring maneuver is not only an attempt to protect its founder in the court of international public opinion and to exert pressure on Rome, but is also an “open provocation” to try to force the release of more than 30 documents in the possession of the plaintiffs, which, while proving the existence of a judicial process against Maciel, would violate their promise of absolute secrecy and thus cause the proceedings to â€œgo up in smoke.â€�
According to reports confirmed by the plaintiffâ€™s side, the Vatican spokesperson, Monsignor Ciro Benedettini, did not send the Legionaries of Christ an official statement, but only responded, when expressly asked, that there was not an investigation into the Maciel case â€” which in reality was not a lie since Benedettini would have no knowledge of a case such as this in which so much confidentiality is involved.
Martha Wegan, canon lawyer and attorney (for the plaintiffs) who is handling the case in the Vatican courts, has so far received no official notification that the case against Maciel is closed, or is about to be closed. Only last December she personally notified the victims of a decision by the Pontifical Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith â€” then headed by the Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI â€” to reopen the investigations in response to accusations they made in the summer of 1998.
At that time the plaintiffs communicated to their lawyer their firm decision to present their case before the Vatican tribunal, and this began to be implemented at the beginning of April of this year when the Promoter of Justice of the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith, Charles Scicluna, and the Vatican notary, Pedro Miguel Funes, were in New York and Mexico City to gather testimonies from Macielâ€™s accusers.
We must remember that the decision to restart the investigation on December 2, 2004 was made on the instructions of Cardinal Ratzinger and was taken in utmost secrecy. In other words there was no communiquÃ© then and, following this logic, there would not be one now when, following the legionary version, the case is virtually shut down â€” as suggests Fred Alvarez, a specialist who has closely followed this case.
Similarly, it would seem completely implausible and even ridiculous for Rome to reopen the case and then after a period of barely five months exonerate the accused priest who, according to well-informed sources, is in Mexico following the “suggestion” specifically from the Vatican not to remain in Rome after turning over the post of director general to his successor, Fr. Alvaro Corcuera-MartÃnez del RÃo.
PRESCRIPTION FOR THE CRIME
Under the Code of Canon Law the statute of limitations for the crime of sexual abuse is 10 years. For that reason, the crime that the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith is prosecuting in the case against Maciel Degollado is â€œabsolutio complicisâ€� â€” absolution of an accomplice â€” of which he was first accused in 1998. In other words, he is accused of having sexually assaulted his victims, heard their confessions, absolved them, and told they were then free to receive communion. [Regain Editor: this has ‘no statute of limitations’ in the Catholic Canon Law.]
The first formal accusations against Marcial Maciel Degollado presented to the ecclesiastical tribunal were made in the summer of 1998 by several ex-legionaries, headed by JosÃ© Barba and Arturo Jurado, in which they stated they that they had been victims of sexual abuse when they were between the ages of 10 and 16. Nevertheless, the Vatican remained silent for nearly seven years until at the end of 2004 it decided to reopen the case.
Cardinal Ratzinger appointed Scicluna to take charge of the investigation of Maciel. He entered Mexico quietly on Sunday, April 3 and began work the following day at a convent located in the San Pedro de los Pinos district (in Mexico City). After more than a week of meetings he took back with him to Rome up to 30 notarized depositions from the affected parties and persons related to the case, as well as various documents.
The Vatican notary for New York was an English speaking Church notary, as the depositions taken there were in English. This notary flew into New York and performed his duties on Saturday, April 2nd, 2005. The following day, Monsignor Charles Scicluna flew to Mexico City to continue gathering testimonies. According to La Jornada, Fr. Pedro Miguel Funes was the ecclesiastical notary for Mexico City, where sworn depositions were taken in Spanish.