Records show inner workings of Legion of Christ



In this Nov. 30, 2004 file photo, Pope John Paul II gives his blessing to father Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ, during a special audience at the Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI took over the Legion in 2010 after a Vatican investigation determined that Maciel had sexually molested seminarians and fathered three children by two women. Following a decision Thursday Feb. 14, 2013, by the Rhode Island Supreme Court, documents have been unsealed related to a lawsuit contesting the will of Gabrielle Mee, who left $60 million to the Legion. AP

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island — Documents released Friday shed light on the inner workings of a secretive and now-disgraced Roman Catholic order called the Legion of Christ, including new details on how the organization took control of an elderly woman’s finances and persuaded her to bequeath it $60 million.

The documents, previously sealed in a lawsuit brought before Superior Court in Rhode Island, include thousands of pages of testimony from high-ranking leaders at the Legion, its members and relatives of wealthy widow Gabrielle Mee. They are the first-ever depositions of high-ranking Legion officials and include how the order’s former second-in-command learned in 2006 that its founder had fathered a child.

The No. 2 said he didn’t go public with the news of the paternity because the founder, the late Rev. Marcial Maciel, had already been sanctioned by the Holy See for having sexually abused seminarians and forced into a lifetime of penance and prayer.

Pope Benedict XVI took over the Legion in 2010 after a Vatican investigation determined that Maciel had lived a double life, including fathering three children by two women. The pope ordered a wholesale reform of the order and named a papal delegate to oversee it.

A Rhode Island Superior Court judge said last year that the documents raised a red flag because Mee, a steadfastly spiritual elderly woman, transferred millions to “clandestinely dubious religious leaders.” But they had been kept under seal until The Associated Press, The New York Times, the National Catholic Reporter and The Providence Journal intervened, arguing that they were in the public interest. The Legion had argued media coverage of the documents could taint prospective jurors if there was a trial.

The Legion scandal is significant because it shows how the Holy See willfully ignored credible allegations of abuse against Maciel for decades while holding him up as a model of sainthood for the faithful because he brought in money and vocations to the priesthood. The scandal, which has tarnished the legacy of Pope John Paul II, is the most egregious example of how the Vatican ignored decades of reports about sexually abusive priests because church leaders put the interests of the institution above those of the victims.

Mary Lou Dauray had alleged that her aunt, Mee, who died at age 96 in 2008, was defrauded by the Legion and unduly influenced by its priests into giving away her fortune. Her late husband was a onetime director of Fleet National Bank.

The Legion said that it didn’t exert undue influence over her decision-making and that the gifts were made of her own will.

“Our actions with regard to Mrs. Mee and her estate were appropriate and honorable,” Legion spokesman Jim Fair said. “We were respectful and diligent in carrying out her wishes in the handling of resources provided to the Legion.”

In documents released Friday, the Rev. Luis Garza, the former No. 2 of the Legion, details for the first time how he confronted Maciel’s mistress and daughter, starting in October 2006, after he became suspicious while visiting Maciel in a Jacksonville, Florida, hotel that June and seeing the two women there.

Both women confirmed Maciel’s paternity, and Garza said he obtained the daughter’s birth certificate as proof — listing the father as Jose Rivas. Later, it was revealed that Maciel used the same pseudonym with his other hidden family, a Mexican woman with whom he had two sons.

Yet Garza said he never confronted Maciel about his double life and didn’t think it was necessary to share the news with the broader membership of the Legion or its lay movement Regnum Christi. He said he only told the Legion’s superior and two other priests.

“I didn’t think at the time that the fact that fathering a child would change in any way the way we needed to behave vis-a-vis Father Maciel or the actions that we needed to do,” Garza said in the 2011 deposition. “Because we needed to comply with indications of the Holy See and also because there was an issue of privacy and respect for the mother and the daughter.”

The Legion didn’t acknowledge Maciel’s children or the sexual abuse allegations against him until February 2009, about a year after he died.

Bernard Jackvony, the lawyer for Mee’s niece, said taken as a whole, the depositions expose how the Legion knew by 2004 that the Vatican was investigating Maciel for sexual abuse and by 2006 that he had a daughter yet kept the information private. He argued that Mee never would have given the Legion her money had she known of Maciel’s true nature.

“In terms of fraud, when you withhold information from people, that’s the same as if you said something to them that’s not true,” he said.

Garza also confirmed he was a member of a committee of three Legion priests who met annually to decide how to distribute funds from Mee’s trusts.

Among other documents released Friday was 2001 testimony from Mee in a separate lawsuit, showing her complete trust in the Legion.

“I know they needed money and what their dealings were, and I have complete confidence and trust. I know it’s all above board. It’s all very honest. I know no details and I don’t ask.”

She said she was never directly asked for money, but said it was “understood” that she’d give help whenever the Legion needed it.

“When I, through the grapevine, hear that something is going on and they know it, it’s understood if I can help, I’d be very glad to,” she said. “Because I have total confidence, you see. Whatever they do is part of my life.”

A Superior Court judge ruled in September that Mee’s niece, Dauray, couldn’t sue, but he noted there was evidence that Mee had been unduly persuaded to change her trusts and will.

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  • peach black

    tanong ko lang relevant pa ba talaga ang mga Katoliko in this day and age? They have been dragging their carcass down the hole for centuries. May natitira pa bang kredibilidad ang abusive na negosyong ito ng mga prayle?

    • binaygulay

      nako yare ka sa mga blind catholic defenders mamaya pare hahaha..

      Apparently sa Pilipinas business as usual. Magaling magtago ang mga pinoy prayle eh.

    • Bayan Panona

      relevant pa ba talaga ang mga Katoliko? Relevant – means important? Syempre! if I’m not mistaken, majority ng Ph population eh Katoliko ang religion. 

    • Observer_din

      lipat lang ang parusa sa mga nang-aabusong mga pari at obispo dito sa pilipinas. Yung c Maciel naman sa taas pinagdasal lang habangbuhay.. sarap naman ng parusa nila, di man lang tinanggal at idenemanda na mismo ng simbahan para ipakita nila sa mga miyembro na hindi nila kinukunsinti ang mga ganitong gawain.. forever corrupt talaga ang simbahan, magmula pa noong panahon ng mga hari at reyna ganun na ugali nila, di pa rin nababago.

  • krizzibarra

    and that’s why the church still insists on blind obedience by the membership.  time to fade away into obsolescence. like many institutions and empires of the  past. the church has serveD its purpose. Move on. 

  • kilabot

    get rich quick and have plenty of sex, anyone? 
    create a new religion and deceive many; 
    proof? just look around you.

  • Carmencita Lopez

    Mag-ingat sa mga kagaya ni Monsignor Cristobal Garcia.

  • Carmencita Lopez

    Mag-ingat sa mga kagaya ni Fr. Antonio Mansueto.

  • Pablo316

    With this kind of news a Bible-believing Christian will surely be reminded of the following verses describing how wicked people will act in the last days, very prophetic!
    “They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.  Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.” (2 Timothy 3:6-9)
    Indeed wrong theology will always result in wrong practice, that is why I encourage God-fearing and God-seeking people to know God and the Lord Jesus Christ more intimately than they could ever do just by attending bland clockwork-like and mechanical masses by reading, studying and living the pure and unadulterated teachings of God’s written words – the Bible.
    God bless!

  • darsmith

    In light of these latest scandal involving the higher echelon of the Vatican and how Pope John Paul II treated this matter, it is worthwhile for the readers to read the testimony of Angelica Zambrano, the Ecuadoran girl who went to hell and back to earth.

  • Jane Tan

    I’m suddenly wondering when a priest who has committed sexual acts (ideally with a female) will claim that it is God’s Will – “Go forth and multiply”.

  • ADD

    The prophecies are unfolding before our very own eyes! 

  • intsikbeho

    The Roman Catholic Church should be systematically dismantled. Its secrets revealed, Its wealth distributed to non profit poverty charity orgs, Its crimes bared and judged; and its people liberated from narrow minded ideals and foolishness. 

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