March 25, 1998, the Feast of the Annunciation, I was hired to be the first communications director for the Legion of Christ and the Regnum Christi movement in North America. The premise of the job was to help respond to the furor caused by the publication in February, 1997, of a series of articles in the Hartford Courant and later in the National Catholic Reporter detailing allegations of sexual abuse against the organization’s founder, Father Marcial Maciel.
When I came aboard, the Legion had prepared a 32-page executive summary which it had distributed throughout the church hierarchy, especially to bishops, making the case for Father Maciel’s innocence. Suffice it to say that, while there always remained some holes in the argument, there seemed to be adequate evidence to support these claims.
It is now clear that Father Maciel did in fact abuse his power and abuse young people in his charge. I personally apologize to his victims and to anyone who was misinformed by statements I made, in this forum and in others. How awful for victims to be taken from their families as children, suffer such abuse, and then to be disbelieved!
There are thousands of additional victims in this sad tale. The good Legionary priests who honestly strive to serve the Church and many Regnum Christi members who join them have all suffered betrayal. As Christ himself showed us, betrayal leads straight to the cross.
Last month, Cardinal Franc Rode, prefect of the Vatican office that oversees religious congregations like the Legionaries, appeared in several Latin American countries encouraging Legionaries and Regnum Christi members to carry on their service to the Church. He did so fully aware of what Father Maciel had done and what the Legionary leadership was doing in response.
The Holy See has the extremely difficult task of trying to keep numerous Legionary institutions from collapsing: a dozen universities, several seminaries, well over a hundred schools, missionary and humanitarian outreach to the poor in several countries, and many faith formation programs for children and adults. The survival of these institutions and the good work they have done depends now upon the sustenance of the Holy Spirit, if the organization can be purged of any elements of the culture of deception which enabled Father Maciel to get away with so much for so long. That purging appears to be underway.
For my personal failings in this horrid series of events, I ask forgiveness.