Commission to Listen to Victims of Legion Founder

By Wooden, Cindy | National Catholic Reporter, February 18, 2011 | Go to article overview

Commission to Listen to Victims of Legion Founder


Wooden, Cindy, National Catholic Reporter


VATICAN CITY * The cardinal serving as papal delegate for the Legionaries of Christ has set up a five-man commission to listen to victims of the Legion's founder and present their claims to the order.

Members of the "Outreach Commission" will "listen to the people who are requesting a response from the Legionaries of Christ because of Fr. Marcial Maciel [Degollado] or in relation to him," said a notice published Feb. 1 on the Legionaries' Web site.

The commission will "deal only with cases having a direct relation to the person of Fr. Maciel. It will not intervene in cases awaiting decisions from civil or ecclesiastical courts," the notice said.

Pope Benedict XVI named Cardinal Velasio De Paolis papal delegate of the Legionaries after it became clear that Maciel, who died in 2008, had fathered children and sexually abused seminarians.

Legionary Fr. Andreas Schoggl, spokesman for the order in Rome, said the commission is limiting its outreach to victims of Maciel because "it is the most urgent need and the one Cardinal De Paolis wants to attend to directly. For other cases, which thankfully have been few, there are other processes and structures in place."

Because Maciel was the order's founder, "this is a special case," Schoggl said Feb. 2. "It doesn't mean we don't care about other cases, but appropriate channels already exist to bring those forward," he said.

Schoggl also said the exclusion of cases currently being handled by a civil or church court was a reasonable limitation of the commission's outreach both to allow the current trials to proceed without interference as well as to respect the victims who chose to have their claims judged in a church or civil court.

Under Benedict's orders and De Paolis' guidance, the Legionaries of Christ have begun a process of reform and the rewriting of their constitutions.

In October, De Paolis said he was forming a commission to rewrite the constitutions, another to handle financial matters and a third "to approach those who in some way put forward claims against the Legion. …

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