Marcial Maciel’s crimes should have ended his organization.

The Church’s Enduring Legacy of Abuse

Marcial Maciel’s crimes should have ended his organization.

JAN 15, 20204:09 PM

Pope John Paul II blesses Marcial Maciel in Paul VI Audience Hall at the Vatican on Nov. 30, 2004.

Reuters/Tony Gentile

In Fernando Meirelles’ film The Two Popes, former Pope Benedict XVI, played by Anthony Hopkins, confesses his sins to Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, now Pope Francis. It is a crucial scene, in which Benedict aims to convince Bergoglio, played by Jonathan Pryce, of the reasons for his resignation as head of the church.
As Bergoglio listens, Benedict mentions Mexican priest Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, an influential, ultraconservative organization present in more than 20 countries, where it operates more than a dozen colleges and almost 150 schools while maintaining close ties to the upper echelons of political power. Maciel, an infamous pedophile who victimized dozens of children in over six decades in the priesthood, enjoyed the active protection of the church for years, especially during John Paul II’s papacy, in which Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger—later Benedict XVI—was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the church’s authority on policy and discipline. Although Meirelles precludes the audience from listening to Benedict’s full confession on Maciel, the inference is clear: Benedict’s inaction on Maciel and others like him burden him to the point of spiritual exhaustion.

It is impossible to know if the real 92-year-old pope emeritus, who was back in the news this week after demanding his name be removed as co-author from a controversial book defending celibacy, is really so profoundly troubled by the church’s unforgivable passivity during Maciel’s long reign of terror. But while Benedict’s conscience remains inscrutable, the full extent of Maciel’s crimes and the Vatican’s role in his impunity does not. Brazilian Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, head of the church’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, which oversees organizations and orders like Maciel’s Legionaries, recently admitted that the Vatican had evidence of Maciel’s crimes dating back to 1943. “We’ve been covering this for over 70 years, and it has been a tremendous mistake,” Braz de Aviz said.


The last four decades of Maciel’s life—during which he consolidated enormous influence, especially in his native Mexico—were particularly shocking. Despite mounting evidence, John Paul II turned a blind eye on his history of abuse, emboldening his followers. (Some even advocated for Maciel’s canonization.) For years, Joseph Ratzinger also refused to act against Maciel. As the prefect responsible for enforcing church doctrine, he choseto handle the church’s sexual abuse scandals through secrecy rather than transparency. For almost a quarter century, Ratzinger failed to push for the detachment of Marcial Maciel from the position of privilege he enjoyed for so long. He finally did so in 2006, when, as pope, he found the courage to remove Maciel from the priesthood and send him to Mexico to supposedly focus on a “discreet life of penance and prayer.” If Maciel followed Benedict’s spiritual marching orders, it certainly did not lead to atonement. He never admitted any wrongdoing, much less showed remorse. He died in 2008 without ever asking for forgiveness.

Under the Vatican’s tutelage, Maciel’s organization has tried to purge itself of its founder. In 2009, the order began a revision of its practices that five years later led to a new “constitutional text,” approved by the Vatican, to “preserve the charism of the congregation and help it thrive.” Maciel’s closest associates continually declared themselves aghast over the accusations and never admitted being privy to any wrongdoing. The organization is no longer allowed to refer to Maciel as “our father” or promote his works. The process of getting rid of Maciel’s legacy of abuse has been a whole different matter. This week, the organization announced Fernando Martínez would leave the priesthood after facing accusations of abuse from at least eight girls in schools run by the organization in Mexico during the early 1990s. The Legionaries stopped short of expelling Martínez, though.

One possible explanation? Martínez himself wasone of Maciel’s many victims of abuse when they crossed paths in a seminary in Ontaneda, Spain, as well as in Rome. The year was 1954. Martínez was 15.
This should come as no surprise. Recent reports have shown that the cycle of abuse within the Legionaries of Christ spanned generations of priests closely tied to both Maciel and the Legion’s origins. According to Spanish newspaper El País, child molestation within the order “was not the result of the perversion of a few priests, but part of a foundational dynamic” within the whole organization. Like Martínez, a considerable number of Maciel’s victims grew up to be abusers themselves, their impunity guaranteed in exchange for their silence about their original ordeal.

Many were rewarded with positions of power and influence. (It is no coincidence that Martínez was given an important role in two of the organization’s academic institutions in Mexico). “It’s part of the Legion’s methods,” Erick Escobar, an ex-member recently said. “Prepare you for the abuse, abuse you, and then turn you into an accomplice.” A recent study published by the order itself admits as much. According to the Legionaries own findings, more than 60 percent of those abused—111 children, by the organization’s own probably count—were either violated by Maciel himself, one of his victims or by a third generation of victims. “These were chains of abuse,” the report acknowledges.
After Maciel, the Legion has tried to get back to business, focusing not on the sins of the founder but on the group’s supposed atonement. So far, the strategy seems to be working, at least up to a point: In the decade since Maciel’s death, active membership has grown 3 percent. According to some estimates, over 170,000 students attend the organization’s schools.

As for the Vatican, Pope Francis seems resolute to leave Maciel in the past. Five years ago, in an interview, the legion’s new leader, Mexican priest Eduardo Robles Gil, told El País that Francis had given his blessing for the organization to renew its efforts. “Pope Francis told me ‘go forward, you have my support,’ ” Robles Gil said. But, as cases like Martinez’s prove, it is hard to turn the page on Marcial Maciel when he was the whole book. Maciel’s organization, tainted by heinous crimes that spanned generations, should have been laid to rest along with its founder.


The Maciel case alone shows the utter financial and sexual corruption of the RCC.

And John Pole was up to his eyes in it.

He should never had been made a saint.

His canonization makes canonization look very tacky indeed.

49 replies on “Marcial Maciel’s crimes should have ended his organization.”

The huge sums of money that Maciel handled indicate that, whatever his morals, he must have been a man of considerable importance in the demimonde of international crime and espionage.
That’s why he was always permitted to ‘get away with it.
And of course there’s a similar situation with the Vatican Bank and the Holy See’s diplomatic network.

“Wherever there’s fish there has to be a pool that they’re swimming in.”


10.21 J lollard:
Same can be said for Mc Carrick. Its reputated that he had 6m in his bank account at one time but no way of knowing it. JPII moved Cardinal law to Rome thus giving us two fingers to catholics. Heard one story re woman who listened to radio in her car re C law as she was on her way to church for her child baptism. When radio ceased then she made her decision not to baptise her child and reversed her car back home.
Devil is walking inside the vatican as he owns it cos church decisions were in his favour re PF.

Saw two and two into five re JPII and marcel cos he couldn’t fire marcel cos he needed the money.

I’m have been trying to get out of RCC. it’s difficult. Cos missing mass is a sin etc. It sounded like a cult.


JP II’s canonisation has blown sky high the notion of infallibility, so let’s start unpicking now a lot of bullshit such as bonkers and contemptible teaching on sexuality which depends on the Church’s inability to err or change her mind. Be bold and grow up!


So “God’s Rottweiler only found the courage to send Maciel packing – after 60 years of abuse known to the Vatican throughout this time – yet he found plenty of courage to move against a man of towering integrity such as Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen of Seattle whom he effectively disabled by sending none other than Donald WUERL – a Bishop whose name recurs in several unfortunate situations. He was of course the protégé of the seedy John Cardinal Wright. It just goes on and on.


Well, what did you expect? Benedict is an ex-Nazi. Therefore doing the right thing was never going to be a top priority.
Nor, for that matter, was showing courage.



A great deal, apparently.

The problem wasn’t how much or how little he was told about Maciel, but how much credence he was willing to give these reports. The answer seems to be ‘none at all’.

JPII is not the man of courage he is sometimes favourably painted:when faced with horrible reality, he would rewrite it as a pleasanter narrative. He did this not just with Maciel, one of his revered priests, but with the dark saga of clerical child-sexual abuse and its cover-up being told in and out of America: he blamed this on increasing secularisation in The States rather than on any structural or administrative flaw in his church.


2:12 pm
Cardinal Ratzinger must have known the extent of CSA within the Church.
It’s hard to believe Pope John Paul II didn’t know the extent of the problem.
It’s also hard to believe he didn’t know of Fr. Maciels criminal reputation.



Monica, during his 24-year tenure as Prefect of the CDF, Ratzinger instructed that every report of clerical child-sexual abuse, from whatever part of the world it emanated, should come to him. And it did.

Many of these reports were extremely serious. Ratzinger knew, therefore, more than anyone else, not just at the Vatican but throughout the rest of the world, the extent, nature, degree and scope of sexual abuse by priests. However, Ratzinger sat on these reports, in obedience to canon law, rather than inform the relevant police to ensure the safety of these, and other children.

One priest of Maciel’s own order, Fr Juan Vaca, informed the CDF over a 30-year period that he, and other boys, in one of Maciel’s seminary schools had been sexually molested by him. The priest sent report after report, through the diplomatic pouch, and received in return protocol numbers, indicating that the reports had reached the CDF. But Vaca never got an answer, not once during that 30-year period. Most alarming of all, Maciel remained untouched, and apparently untouchable. And he continued to abuse the young sexually.

Eventually, even the officious Ratzinger was sufficiently horrified to try to inform JPII of what his protégé had been doing. But JPII just did not want to countenance what he was being told about this sadistic pervert. He protected him, forcing Ratzinger to abandon a planned canonical investigation of Maciel. It is truly astonising that this pope was canonised, but that’s the hubris of institutional Roman Catholicism.


Canon law seems to take precedence over scripture when it suits.
I wonder if Cardinal Ratzingers election as Pope by the college of Cardinals was a poison chalice and not simply a political move ?
I suspect a lot of Cardinals knew of the various personnel problems etc, as well as financial issues and other potential scandals in the Church.



Canon law will always take preference over Scripture when this is considered politic; as ever, the rationale for this is the over-rating of ONE ecclesial twin pillar of divine revelation: TRADITION to Scripture.

EVERY papal election is a fruit of Church politics, and the cardinals who work at the Vatican, in curial roles, are the best-informed of all, and, therefore, the most powerful, and the strongest driven to lobby for their preferred candidate. Don’t, for one moment, believe the cod-theology that the Holy Spirit picks the winner: this is just a prop for the strange notion of papal infallibility.

I don’t think Ratzinger’s election as pope was a poisoned chalice: I think it rather the hope of growing theological conservatism in the Church, and nourished by the papacy of JPII, that Ratzinger would consolidate the work his predecessor had begun. But these electors reckoned without the fact that Ratzinger was always going to be more an intellectual than a pastor; both qualities are necessary for a successful papacy.

Cardinals are like Gnostics: they possess knowledge which the rest of us may not share, because only they are privileged enough to receive it.


Can Marciel not be uncanonised. Books were taken from the Bible. People were excommunicated.
Historical Popes were far from godly. Infallible my arshe hi. Also can an organisation be condemned because of one person.


Not for want of trying, though.
If JPII weren’t ‘a moulding in the grave’, he would doubtless have pushed for this man’s canonisation. It is what happens when a pope is allowed to fossilise in office: extremely questionable things are done by him, and for him.


Lol there’s defo a Mary Robinson thang goin down with Fanny alright. The velveteen voice and the way heresy dripples from Fanny’s lips like butter on a big bowl of shpuds 😉


Some have tried to defend Benedict’s role (or lack of it) in the Maciel criminality. They argue that as prefect of the CDF (when he was the Vatican bureaucrat who knew most about clerical abuse in the Church), that he had wanted to act against Maciel, but was impeded by JPII through at least one other Vatican official. However, it was always his lack of desire to act against a fellow cleric than the opportunity to do so that was Benedict’s Achille’s heel. When he was Pope, Benedict showed precisely this lack by sentencing Maciel to the inhuman rigour of ‘prayer and penitence’ (something a priest should be practising anyhow) ; but he did NOT defrock Maciel, as other abusing priests had been defrocked. Presumably, Benedict did not want to emphasise, too much, the exceedingly poor judgement of his predecessor, Pope JPII, who had lionised Maciel as an efficacious guide to youth. 🤣


Maciel, McCarrick and the like – the only reason that the Vatican didn’t move on them earlier was because they were bringing in million of dollars and spreading it around very generously. But, if you were not bringing in money, and you put a foot wrong or questioned something, then the CDF would be down on you like a ton of bricks. Money talks. I’m sure there are still people being protected because they are cash cows.


Yes, I noticed that.

Poor luvs must be exhausted, what with their semi-literate ‘bitching’ on this blog, and their enormous workloads as priests.


Do you not think it might be something to do with YOU that lay folk like me and others are getting tired of this blog because of YOU. You are only on here to goad people and abuse them – you are only frustrated that people are not hitting back at you today in the usual tit for tat way – how sick a mentality is that and still encouraged by Pat. I’ve had enough.


Ah now Magna you must have seen the pattern at this stage, steady up Fri and Sat for Mass on Sunday. Coming down bitch,moan, cover up, check the blog, attack Magna. Sun mass over 3 course meal with wine, brandy, etc. Another good start to the week.


Close the door on your way out, ‘Father’.
We shouldn’t want any other undesirables getting in. 😕


Oh dear, if FlyBe goes under, how will the Fathers be able to pop over for the sauna/ gay bar in Liverpool, Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester, London….? E proprio un disastro ! Thank God for HMG for stepping in and keeping FlyBe afloat. I know a good Catholic Queen who works for FlyBe and says that he can spot the clergy boys a mile off. Calls them ‘Father’ when serving their G&T. Proper upsets their secret little plans. I think the Bishops should lobby HMG to ensure that FlyBe is supported, for the sake of the Fathers ‘legitimate’ recreational needs. I mean, they can’t go to Belfast anymore for fun. They will be recognised and disturbed. And Dublin isn’t much better. Who is the patron saint of airlines ? Should we set up a novena ?


5 27: Since you seem familiar with all the gay saunas and their shadiness perhaps you could begin an escort service with benefits…you of course being the maestro masseur!!


Regional connectivity, it’s called. HMG is going on about it all the time now. They are only in power because of the stupid working class voters of the North and the regions like NI that voted for them and their lackeys. So they have to try and keep them happy. FlyBe is one of those little titbits thrown to the thick fat white working class vote that got the Tories in. They will come to be sorry for ‘lending’ their votes to the Tories. E proprio un macello.


How did the working class (or any class of) people in the North vote for the Tories and their lackeys? The Tories currently have no lackeys in the north of Ireland. They don’t need any.


The girls can’t defend the indefensible. 😠
Either that or they’re worn out from the late night meetings doing the hippy hippy shake,🎤
on top of the day job, as well as ranting and raving on this blog. 😂


I left the RC church on the day Ratztinger became Pope, primarily because of his order ensuring the church’s investigations into child sex abuse claims be carried out in secret – and that breaching the pontifical secret at any time while the 10-year jurisdiction order is operating carries penalties, including the threat of excommunication. This applied to perpetrators, witnesses and victims alike. so the sexual, psychological and emotional abuse inflicted on the victims was to be compounded by spiritual abuse – by the very people who should have been protecting them.
A prison sentence is not enough for abusers – something more along the lines of Matthew 18:6 would be far more appropriate.


No, I left because that one man epitomised everything that was wrong with the Church, and that man was heading up the organisation, having been voted in by those who should have known, and did know better. When an organisation is perverse, rotten and corrupt at the very core, then only a fool would willingly stay as a part of it. More fool you if you can’t see that.


I notice Monica has surfaced. Someone must have given her a night off from the kitchen sink. Gee up Monnie…


Fr. Lollipop Josie, sounding as sexist, chauvinistic and insulting as always.
Do your parishioners know your such a male chauvinistic individual. Not likely.
No comment to make on Fr. Maciel?


MC I agree. Papal infallibility is a load of s**te. And to think that my poor oul ma and da believed all that pish.
That God I used my own reasoning and seen through that load of crap. I pity those poor suckers. Baaaa baaaa


8.55 Conditioning is a horrible thing. Mantie was brought up in a convent. She needs to be under someone’s thumb to be comfortable Tis sad hi and her auldfella loves it. Proper believer who likes his beer hi


For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord; plans for welfare [Safeguarding the most vulnerable] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Yes! To give – even – you hope! Because when your sins are revealed, the process of renewal will begin. Behold-the time is at hand!
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
They who waited for the Lord are now being strengthened; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary [anymore]; they shall walk and not faint [anymore].
And after all this, I invite you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you [there is always hope! But I sadly doubt you will change from your ways] through the laying on of my hands.


Magna, where DO you get your information? 🤦‍♂️

Cardinal Ratzinger EVENTUALLY succeeded, after many years of struggle against Cardinal Sodano (Secretariat of State), in having his Congregation assume handling of clerical abuse cases. And as soon as Ratzinger had control, investigations into Maciel were authorised. He is the only senior Cardinal known to refuse Maciel’s bribes, politely but insistently. As soon as the CDF’s investigation into Maciel was complete, and the findings submitted, Ratzinger — pope by now — enacted canonical penalties against Maciel. All of this is well documented, and published many years ago. It’s all over the Internet for any who care to conduct due diligence before weighing in.

It’s curious that The Two Popes presents Ratzinger as indulgent towards clerical abusers, and Bergoglio as severe. The record, sad to say, shows the opposite to be true.



You miss the point. Can’t say I’m surprised.

Ratzinger was free, at any time, to refer these serious crimes to relevant law enforcement agencies; free to create international outrage by going to the Press. No one held a gun to his head, forcing him to do otherwise. But he CHOSE not to do anything. He CHOSE to put institutional protocol and respectability before conscience. Shame on him.

And shame on you for defending this Christ-betrayer, and the betrayer of the young and the vulnerable.. 😕


I don’t dialogue with shame, and nor should any of us. Shame is the currency of the devil, compelling people into the dark, away from the prospect of reparation and redemption.
(Guilt, on the other hand, is an important and sometimes imperative means to conversion. But guilt relies on conscience, not the mind-reading condemnation of neighbours. Beware the temptation to judge beyond one’s rightful place.)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s