Monday, July 20, 2009

Jason Berry on the Vatican Investigation

Talk about having been right all along. And vilified for it...

Vatican investigates Legionaries of Christ
The Catholic Church looks into cult allegations — and $1,000 hams.
By Jason Berry — Special to GlobalPost
Published: July 19, 2009 20:54 ETU

Editor's note: A sweeping Vatican investigation of an international religious order — and the cult of personality built around its founder — has just begun in Rome. Five bishops are delving into the finances and internal dynamics of an organization suspected of influence peddling. Award-winning investigative reporter and author Jason Berry has tracked these events for years in a book he co-authored and a documentary he produced on events leading to the Pope's decision to investigate. In this exclusive report for GlobalPost, Berry breaks new ground on the Vatican investigation of the Legionaries of Christ, and the case against Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, the founder.

ROME — Pope Benedict XVI recently appointed five bishops from as many countries to investigate the Legionaries of Christ, a religious order founded in 1941 by the late Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, a Mexican priest who is accused of sexually abusing young seminarians, and who left a grown daughter who was born out-of-wedlock.

Even after death, Maciel wields power through the influence he secured.

While the American Catholic Church has been publicly battered by two decades of priest sexual abuse scandals that erupted in the press and devastated church finances with hundreds of millions of dollars spent on compensating victims and legal fees, the Maciel scandal has gone largely unnoticed by most of the American press.

There’s a reason: For decades, the Legion shunned the media while Maciel cultivated relationships with some of the most powerful, conservative Catholics in the world. He also forced his priests and seminarians to take vows never to criticize him, or any superior. The legion built a network of prep schools and an astonishing database of donors. In Maciel's militant spirituality, Legionaries — and their wing of lay supporters, Regnum Christi — see themselves as saving the church from a corrupted world. Behind the silence he imposed, Maciel was corrupt — abusing seminarians and using money in ways that several past and present seminarians liken to bribery, in forging ties with church officials.

The silence Maciel imposed on his followers allowed Maciel to pursue a double life.
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