Search Results For maciel

Neuhaus And Maciel

Andrew Sullivan —  Feb 4 2009 @ 11:22am

They are both now dead, but that doesn’t mean their alliance is not worth noting. Father Marcial Maciel founded and ran an authoritarian theocon cult within the Catholic church for many years, aided and abetted and celebrated by the Wojtila-Ratzinger papacy. Maciel was credibly accused of molesting and abusing countless young men in his care and is now exposed as someone who also had a secret female lover and even child. The accusations of abuse were made by men who had absolutely no reason to sacrifice their lives and careers in Mexico and any objective review would have led someone to be horrified. But former theocon-in-chief, Richard John Neuhaus, demonized the journalists who uncovered the evidence and wrote the following in First Things:

It is not the kind of stuff you would find in any mainstream media, but then Berry and Renner are not practitioners of what is ordinarily meant by responsible journalism. Berry’s business is Catholic scandal and sensationalism. That is what he does. Renner’s tour at the Courant was marked by an animus against things Catholic, an animus by no means limited to the Legion.

The usual theocon tack: accuse critics of being anti-Catholic bigots. Then this:

I can only say why, after a scrupulous examination of the claims and counterclaims, I have arrived at moral certainty that the charges are false and malicious. I cannot know with cognitive certainty what did or did not happen forty, fifty, or sixty years ago. No means are available to reach legal certainty (beyond a reasonable doubt). Moral certainty, on the other hand, is achieved by considering the evidence in light of the Eighth Commandment, ‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.’ On that basis, I believe the charges against Fr. Maciel and the Legion are false and malicious and should be given no credence whatsoever.

He never retracted this to my knowledge. For a remarkable documentary on the truth about Maciel, check this out.

Confronting The Maciel Cult

Andrew Sullivan —  Jun 17 2008 @ 11:50am

I posted about the Legionaries of Christ yesterday. Here’s an interesting and new John Allen interview with the archbishop of Baltimore who’s finally trying to prevent the cult’s "one-on-one spiritual direction with anyone under 18."

Maciel Dead

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 31 2008 @ 4:00pm

One of the most powerful and well-connected child-abusers in the Catholic hierarchy, Marcial Maciel Degollado, has died. Rocco’s obit is here. Benedict made some efforts to hold him accountable for countless crimes, but, like most of the child-abusers with strong Vatican connections, Maciel was never prosecuted:

The community’s formal notice said that Maciel passed away "in the bosom of the Catholic church."

Maciel’s Defenders

Andrew Sullivan —  May 20 2006 @ 12:35pm

They represent a Who’s Who of American theoconservatives. Money quotes:

"The recent revival of long discredited allegations against Father Maciel would come as a surprise were it not for the fact that the U.S. is currently experiencing a resurgence of anti-Catholicism. One would have thought that Father Neuhaus’s meticulous analysis of the evidence in First Things had put the matter to rest once and for all. As one who sat near Father Maciel for several weeks during the Synod for America, I simply cannot reconcile those old stories with the man’s radiant holiness.

The most powerful refutation, however, comes from the spiritual vibrancy of the great organization he founded, and the thousands of lives that have been touched and transformed by the men and women he has inspired. As Our Lord has told us, "By their fruits ye shall know them." That irresponsible journalists keep dredging up old slanders is perhaps best viewed as a tribute to the success of Regnum Christi and the Legionaries of Christ in advancing the New Evangelization," – Mary Ann Glendon.

Bill Donohue came to Maciel’s defense in this letter to the Hartford Courant:

The headline story of February 23 on the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Father Marcial, might have been more persuasive if you didn’t expect your readers to be so gullible. After all, what am I to make of the third paragraph: "Several [of the accusers] said Maciel told them he had permission from Pope Pius XII to seek them out sexually for relief of physical pain." To think that any priest would tell some other priest that the pope gave him the thumbs up to have sex with another priest ‚Äî all for the purpose of relieving the poor fellow of some malady ‚Äî is the kind of balderdash that wouldn’t convince the most unscrupulous editor at any of the weekly tabloids. The wonder is why this newspaper found merit enough to print it.

Bill Bennett also backed the Legion against the claims of the victims of teen molestation. Duh.

Benedict and Maciel

Andrew Sullivan —  May 19 2006 @ 5:16pm


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 communiqué 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.)

Maciel’s Enablers

Andrew Sullivan —  May 19 2006 @ 5:15pm


One thing remains: to hold to account those who protected Maciel, denied the charges, covered up the evidence, intimidated witnesses, and slandered good reporters. Chief among these enablers was Pope John Paul II, a close friend of Maciel, who essentially sided with his archconservative friend against the victims of sexual abuse for years, and even granted him honors at a time when the accusations were well known. In this, Pope John Paul II was no better than Cardinal Law. The evidence against Maciel was overwhelming, but John Paul refused to take it seriously. John Paul II’s complicity in his own church’s record of covering up child-molestation has still not been fully elaborated or publicy understood. Somehow, he ducked blame for a crisis that occurred on his watch and, in the Maciel case, with his active, criminal collusion.

But we should not forget Richard John Neuhaus either, the chief theoconservative, editor of First Things, defender of Maciel and slanderer of the journalists who tried to unmask Maciel’s crimes. Here’s Neuhaus on Berry and Renner:

It is not the kind of stuff you would find in any mainstream media, but then Berry and Renner are not practitioners of what is ordinarily meant by responsible journalism. Berry’s business is Catholic scandal and sensationalism. That is what he does. Renner’s tour at the Courant was marked by an animus against things Catholic, an animus by no means limited to the Legion.

Neuhaus owes both men a public apology. Here is Neuhaus on the Maciel case itself:

I can only say why, after a scrupulous examination of the claims and counterclaims, I have arrived at moral certainty that the charges are false and malicious. I cannot know with cognitive certainty what did or did not happen forty, fifty, or sixty years ago. No means are available to reach legal certainty (beyond a reasonable doubt). Moral certainty, on the other hand, is achieved by considering the evidence in light of the Eighth Commandment, ‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.’ On that basis, I believe the charges against Fr. Maciel and the Legion are false and malicious and should be given no credence whatsoever.

The italics for the words "moral certainty" are Neuhaus’s, not mine. For Neuhaus, what mattered was defending an arch-conservative institution within the Catholic church, and describing the sexual abuse crisis as one caused by liberals and homosexuals. He was wrong on both counts. And the beauty of it is: the Pope himself has now corrected him. Is Neuhaus going to accuse the Holy Father of anti-Catholic bias now, as well? Or will he do the decent thing and apologize?

(Photo of Richard John Neuhaus from Time, courtesy of "First Things.")


Andrew Sullivan —  May 25 2005 @ 2:04pm

This gets weirder and weirder.


Andrew Sullivan —  May 23 2005 @ 6:35pm

The website that devotes itself to seeking justice for those who claim they were molested by the Legion of Christ’s leader says that the investigation has not ended. I don’t know how to judge their claims. The website is a good resource, though, for learning more about this troubling matter.

An Acid Test For Francis

Andrew Sullivan —  Feb 7 2014 @ 1:02pm

Pope Francis Attends Celebration Of The Lord's Passion in the Vatican Basilica

The UN Report on the Vatican’s role as a global conspiracy to enable, abet and cover up crimes against humanity is a vital reminder of just how hideous the Catholic Church has been in violating the souls and bodies of so many innocents. Sometimes, the sheer scale of the abuse renders one mute. But it shouldn’t. Nor should the emergence of a truly Christian – as opposed to Christianist – Pope blind us to the taint that still corrupts Catholicism.

The scale of the criminality is important to keep in mind:

Last month, the Vatican acknowledged that close to 400 priests left the priesthood in 2011 and 2012 because of accusations that they had sexually abused children.

The number of victims is in the tens of thousands. And their agony never ends. Now it should be said that the Church has made some serious changes to prevent child abuse in the future, and Benedict deserves some credit for that. But the institution itself has never held itself fully accountable. And the crimes it presided over were legion and horrifying. Only today, for example, we read of the apology issued by the Legion of Christ – a neo-fascist, theocon cult – for the grotesque abuses of its founder, protected for years by Pope John Paul II:

The Legionaries of Christ, which former members said was run like a secretive cult, accused the founder, the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, who died in 2008, of “reprehensible and objectively immoral behavior” as head of the order from its founding in 1941 until Pope Benedict XVI removed him in 2006.

The Dish’s long coverage of this scandal – well before the hierarchy began finally to take it seriously – can be found here. And when you absorb just how evil this cult was, just how depraved its leader was, and the psychic and spiritual toll it took on so many human beings, you come to one conclusion: there is no way this organization should still exist. The Vatican should shut it down. Period. Instead we have the former cronies and favorites of Maciel still calling the shots:

The order’s newly elected general director, the Rev. Eduardo Robles Gil, has a long history with the group himself. According to its website, he helped establish the Legion in Brazil, and in 2011 he was named to a commission created to work with the victims of Father Maciel. The Rev. John Stegnicki, a former Legion priest now working in the archdiocese of Brasília, was quoted by The Associated Press as saying that the outcome of the election was “disappointing” but predictable, given that the priests voting were by and large Maciel confidants or their protégés. “Who else could they choose from?” he said. “All of them are entrenched in Legion-think.”

So why does the church tolerate the continuation of such an organization? And yet it does. Similarly, why on earth is the Pope who presided over the sex abuse crisis – and protected Maciel to his death – even faintly considered for sainthood, far sooner than has ever been the case before? Sanctifying a Pope who presided over such crimes against humanity is an obscenity.

And why do we have to struggle to discover that more than 400 priests have been defrocked because of child rape in the last couple of years alone? Why aren’t their dismissals announced proudly by the Vatican? And why, for Pete’s sake, does the Vatican not enforce a simple rule: all accusations of child abuse should be referred immediately to secular law enforcement?

Francis has an opportunity here – perhaps the only opportunity the church will ever get – to turn a new page, to insist on complete transparency, to be fully accountable to law enforcement, and to atone and recant for the legacy of the past. There needs to be a purge not just of abusing priests but of every church official who played any part in the cover-up. Why, for example, has Cardinal Bernard Law not been defrocked and publicly shamed – instead of enjoying a cushy sinecure in Rome?

Francis has made some steps toward a reckoning with the past. But not nearly enough so far. He’s been adept at symbols, gestures, simple acts that speak more loudly than words. But no symbol and no gesture would do more to restore some measure of integrity to the institution than following most of the UN Report’s recommendations. The truth is that the Catholic Church has committed a crime against humanity. Until every person implicated in that crime is removed, defrocked and disgraced, the entire moral credibility of the church will remain irreparably damaged.

A reader writes:

I understand your perspective on Dylan Farrow and respect what you have written.  I, too, am deeply sympathetic to her and refuse to dismiss what she has said.  Nonetheless, the account published by The Daily Beast offers a clear and cogent defense of Woody Allen, and I would urge you to consider it. I do not know what to think, but I am starting to wonder if the issue at stake is not whether we allow a man’s morality to overshadow the quality of his work, but rather whether we truly have enough evidence to discount the morality of the man.

I’m glad to link, and eager to air that side of the issue. But I remain, as I have to, agnostic about the actual accusations – but not the evident pain and anger in the letter – which remains compatible with what Dylan says happened to her. But my point was not about who may or may not be right. I cannot know with any certainty, although I tend to sympathize with most victims in cases like these. My point was simply about how the moral compromises involved in grappling with flawed artists are basically unavoidable. Another adds:

Allegations such as these are so perverse, nobody ever wants to believe someone would be willing to simply make them up.  But as the Duke lacrosse team case taught us, the accusations aren’t always true.

Another dissents:

I’m struggling with why you weren’t this measured and circumspect when you responded to abuse within the church and by Sandusky at Penn State. You’re not exactly known for your friendliness to child molesters. Jefferson, Eliot, and Larkin all thought and did things that were morally repugnant, sure, but none of them directly involved the sexual abuse of a small child. Wasn’t Maciel just as accomplished an auteur (within his chosen sphere) as Allen? Should we sit here and marvel at the brilliant talent and the subtle artistry with which he manipulated his audience?

If Ms. Farrow’s allegations are as true as you and I seem to believe they are, your comparison to concussions in the NFL is inapt. For all the evil of the concussion crisis, those grown men agreed to that environment in a way that Ms. Farrow did and could not.  A more general comparison to football, however, may be on point in that apparently all fans are incredibly willing to overlook or at least contextualize the sins of their preferred entertainment.

So, why the restrained invective when it comes to Woody Allen?

Because I do not know for sure. And an individual possible case like this one is not the same as institutionalized child abuse whose impact can be so much greater and where institutional and social power can enforce silence in ways not imposed on Dylan Farrow. Another reader draws from experience:

Rage expressed towards a parent by an adult kid may be due to real abuse, but it is not proof of abuse. I participate in support groups of estranged parents, principally mothers, who have been estranged by their adult children.

It is common in these groups for these mothers to share their grief, heartbreak, confusion and their own anger over their kids’ rewriting of history and allegations of things that did not happen. There is also something called Parental Alienation Syndrome, which is said to occur in situations of a bitter divorce where one parent – generally the parent who is living with the child at the time of the divorce – is so bitter that their feelings and their behavior towards the other parent influence their children to react to the formerly loved other parent as though they are of no worth, resulting in complete rejection of the other parent. The rejection can be so complete that nothing that the alienated parent can do will convince the child of their worth.

It is hard to imagine that anyone could have been angrier at Woody Allen than Mia Farrow at the time of their breakup. I can imagine that it was tough to have been a child living in her household then. It isn’t hard for me to believe that in her own rage at Allen that Mia would have gone to the extent of using her children as weapons against Allen. A child of 7 is no match for a mother in a rage.

I don’t know what really happened, but for me the proof of what happened does not lie in Dylan’s rage. I have seen adult kids grow up believing that good parents were bad parents. It is a tragedy for everyone.

One more reader:

We know nothing about Dylan.  Nothing about her mental health.  Nothing about how her mental health was assessed as a seven year old (or as a three year old, for that matter).  She cannot be questioned or cross examined.  The report stemming from the six or seven month investigation of her allegations has never been made public, but what little we know of it suggests every reason to doubt Dylan and Farrow.  And according to the Daily Beast, her brother Moses – also adopted by Allen – has now decided that living with Farrow involved “brainwashing.”

I do not believe Dylan, not her particulars at least (which are, in fact, not very particular). Which is not to say that I find Allen blameless.  Adoptive children are often very fragile. I have two. Even children adopted as infants experience tragedy very early in life and tragedy damages children.  To jointly adopt two fragile children with a woman to whom you have not made a lifetime commitment, a woman who is most assuredly a few sandwiches short of a picnic, and then to cheat on that woman with her own adoptive daughter is to invite bedlam. Allen may not have foreseen the details of that bedlam, but when we do bad things we don’t get to dictate the parameters of the suffering that ensues.

Mia Farrow’s brother, by the way, is currently jailed for child abuse,  and the vast majority of abusers started out abused.  I wouldn’t be surprised if both brother and sister were victims.  Moreover, I suspect Dylan, out of empathy for her mother’s very vocal rage, truly did not want to see Allen after their separation, and that when she did not want to see him, Farrow, based on her own experience, suspected and then suggested the possibility of sexual abuse.  And after days and months of questioning and prodding, I suspect that Dylan came to believe that she had been abused.

If we care about facts, and want to hash them out in the media, the report should be released as well as transcripts of all interviews – including with Dylan.  But we are not concerned about facts. We are concerned with vengeance and anger.