A quite astonishing development has occurred in Rome. The founder of the Legion of Christ, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, has finally been disciplined for what was a long and brutal history of sexual abuse and harassment of young seminarians in his care. The case against Maciel has been voluminous and exhaustive. The best account of it appeared in the Hartford Courant, under the by-lines of Jason Berry and Gerald Renner. ABC News also ran a splendid segment, which included the unforgettable footage of then-Cardinal Ratzinger prissily slapping the wrist of Brian Ross, while stonewalling on the inquiry. In Benedict’s defense, Maciel has finally been held to account. But the puny disciplinary measures brought against him are a sign that the Vatican still doesn’t get the gravity of the crimes committed by Maciel against innocents. The statement by the Legion of Christ is even more astonishing:
1. Fr. Marcial Maciel has received during his life a great number of accusations. In the last few years, some of these were presented to the Holy See so that a canonical process would be opened.
2. Facing the accusations made against him, he declared his innocence and, following the example of Jesus Christ, decided not to defend himself in any way.
3. Considering his advanced age and his frail health, the Holy See has decided not to begin a canonical process but to "invite him to a reserved life of prayer and penance, renouncing to any public ministry."
4. Fr. Maciel, with the spirit of obedience to the Church that has always characterized him, he has accepted this communiqu√© with faith, complete serenity and tranquility of conscience, knowing that it is a new cross that God, the Father of Mercy, has allowed him to suffer and that will obtain many graces for the Legion of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement.
Outraged yet? They still don’t get it. A full-scale criminal investigation into the Legion – and its past practices – seems to me to be warranted.
(Photo: Andrew Medicini/AP.)