Very recently Associated Press stated that
the Legion confirmed it had referred seven cases of alleged abuse to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith This statement from the Legion gave the impression that the Legion was on top of the situation and was cooperating with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
According to the AVLCRC, Asociacion de Ayuda a los Afectados por la Ensenanzas del Grupo Religioso Legionarios de Cristo *#40;Association of Help for those affected by the teaching of the religious group Legionaries of Christ*#41; they (not the Legion) were the ones who reported to the CDF regarding the abuse by the seven Legionary priests. According to this Spanish victims’ group, they reported the abuse two years ago to the head of the Legion, Father Alvaro Corcuera. When he failed to respond, they reported it to Cardinal DePaolis, who is overseeing the reform process. Then, when he failed to take action, they went to the CDF (Congregations for the Doctrine of the Faith) in the Vatican.
As news agencies began to report this story another bombshell dropped. The most visible Legionary priest, Rev Thomas D Williams, Legionary moral theologian, TV personality and author of more than a dozen books, including one called
Knowing Right From Wrong: A Christian Guide to Conscience. admitted that he had fathered a child some time ago. There were few details provided.
ReGAIN sources (unconfirmed) have provided some information that the incident most likely happened around 2000, when Father Williams was rector at Legionary headquarters in Rome, Via Aurelia 677 (the same place where Father Maciel had abused seminarians). As rector, he would have had much more freedom of movement than the regular members, who had to abide by the
Apparently, Father Williams has denied that it was one of his students or anyone under his spiritual direction. Was it then a daughter of a benefactor perhaps or a daughter of a Regnum Christi member, or a visitor or someone from a prominent Catholic family? Was she married or single? These sort of details are being kept secret because of privacy concerns for those involved.
We share Cardinal DePaolis’ concern for the private lives involved in this new scandal and we also share in his relief that this time there were no laws broken (i.e. no children molested). Being human, we can’t help but wonder about some of the details as questions go through our minds about who the mother is, what is her relationship to the Regnum Christi Movement and how old is she, was she married or single. It is becoming more difficult to keep secrets these days when things do happen.
Reuters Click Here for Reuters Article has identified that the Legion and Cardinal DePaolis knew for months about Father Williams having fathered a child. Most people are willing to forgive the handsome, irresistible Father Williams for being possibly victimized by some seductive beautiful young lady. Even Cardinal DePaolis has shown acceptance of Father William’s indiscretions by his statement:
There is a need to be careful in cases like this. It concerns a private life. These things happen these days, unfortunately.
Yes, these things do happen and we are all sinners. However, more shocking than the story of the Legion’s most prominent and visible theologian having fathered a child is the obvious conclusion that the Legion did whatever was necessary to cover up the facts for as long as they could.
Based on the Reuters story, Cardinal Velasio De Paolis said
I found out about it this yearWhen asked (by Reuters) if he meant since the beginning of this year, he said
In a later report May 17 by the Catholic News Agency Click Here the Legion apologized for not acting more quickly in the case of Father Thomas Williams.
There is a parallel here to the way things unfolded in 2009. The Legionary founder, Father Marcial Maciel had been disgraced twice by the Vatican, first in 2006 when he was advised to lead a quiet life of repentance and prayer and no longer practice his priesthood or speak publically and again after he died when the Vatican communique was issued in May 2010 following investigations to determine what effect his actions had had on the Legion structure. The Legion at the time decided they could no longer defend their founder’s name. However, they carefully chose their words about his transgressions to focus on the long and stable relationship that he had with a woman. They were extremely tight lipped about any mention of molestation of children who had been in his care even though a significant number of ex Legionaries had been seeking justice for decades. The Legion tried to concentrate focus on the (relatively normal and acceptable) relationship that he had with a woman.
There were only a few days between the release of the recent (May 2012) story about charges of sexual abuse of minors by Legionary priests and the admissions by Father Williams that he had impregnated a woman. Is it a coincidence that the images of children being sexually molested by a number of Legionary priests was (again) quickly washed away by the image of one of the most handsome Legionary priests having a moment of weakness with a woman? Certainly it is easier for us to forgive in our hearts the popular Legionary favorite than it is to forgive seven unknown priests that some might think of as lechers, who took advantage of innocent children.
Is the reform working? Have the old guard Legionary leaders who remain in positions of authority to this day had a change of heart and truly picked up the spirit of reform? So far we have seen very little evidence that there is any desire to change. On the other hand there has been a lot of evidence to show that spin control and damage control teams are keeping themselves quite busy.
Piecing together a chronology of the reports we have heard, it appears that events proceeded something like this:
- Fr’s indiscretion happened around 2000 when he was rector at the Legion headquarters in Rome, Via Aurelia 677 *#40;the same place where in the 1950’s Fr. Maciel had abused his seminarians*#41;. As rector he would have had much more freedom of movement than regular members having to abide by ‘community rules’.
- Who was the woman? He denied it was a student of his or a person under his spiritual direction; is he telling the truth? If not them who? Not a prostitute. What other females could he meet? A daughter of a benefactor, daughter of a member of the Regnum Christi, daughter of a visitor, prominent Catholic family…?
- when superiors find out about it around that time they take him out of Rome and send to Cheshire waiting for things to cool down. Legion does ‘damage control’ with girl’s parents.
- When the coast is clear Fr. William returns to Rome and resumes his regular duties
- Things go back to normal until somebody spills the beans to the CDF which takes it seriously; Legion is approached by AP regarding the accusation; they make Fr. W fess up and take the rap
- This helps to take the pressure off the pedophile charges against other priests; just like they tried to have Maciel’s mistresses take the heat of his pedophilia *#40;that kind of backfired*#41;