Mexico: Revelations of Crimes by Father Maciel

Recent investigations have brought about controversy regarding the crimes of Mexican priest Father Marcial Maciel, founder of the Roman Catholic Order the Legion of Christ, who received multiple accusations for child abuse from the mid 1990s up until his death in 2008. Despite the crimes, the priest was known to have been protected by important religious leaders close to Pope John Paul II and figures of the Mexican economy and politics, according to a series of articles of The New York Times.

Photo by midiman. Used following a Creative Commons License. Taken from

Photo by midiman. Used following a Creative Commons License. Taken from

Although Maciel died in 2008, his victims have continued to search for public acknowledgment of the crimes and for justice. Without the protection of Pope John Paul II, new details of Maciel's crimes have reached mainstream media and have helped make up a comprehensive panorama of the depth of the damage caused by the priest. In March of 2010, two supposed sons of Maciel talked to a journalist [es] about how they were abused as children by his father for 8 years, with explicit details.

When the news broke, it was already reported that Maciel had a daughter and that he had at least 9 accusations of sexual abuse from former seminarians of the Legion. In March, the lawyer of Maciel’s sons assured [es] that the Mexican priest had passports, bank accounts, and credit cards under three different names, and that he utilized the the millionaire fundraising activity of the Legion [es] to “buy” Vatican leaders and friendships. These facts complemented the investigations of the past year that documented the connections between the religious leader and the drugtrafficking groups [es] and even Maciel's plagiarism of the primary book of the Legion [es] El salterio de mis días (The psalmbook of my days).

It was not until May of 2010 when the “double life” of Father Maciel was publicly acknowledged by the Vatican [es] and was labeled as “immoral”.

The crimes of the Mexican priest have been discussed thoroughly in citizen media for the last years. In the blog Atrio a discussion from 2006 can be found after Maciel was condemned by Pope Benedict XVI because of the child abuse. User Emilio commented on the post [es] regarding the safety of the children that are in the seminars:

quisiera recordar a los que somos familiares de Legionarios. Tenemos el derecho y queremos que la Iglesia nos garantice que no enviamos a un hijo, hermano… al seminario para ser violado por sinverguenzas. Si la investigación se cierra en falso, la perjudicada será la Iglesia misma, y la Legión misma. ¿Quién querrá ser sacerdote?

I would like to remember those who are related to Legionaries. We have the right and we want the Church to guarantee us that we did not send a son, a brother… to the seminary to be raped by crooks. If the investigation concludes without consequences, both the Legion and the Church will be affected. Who will want to become a priest?

In a more recent post, blogger immorfo noted the poor response [es] from the religious organizations when it comes to the victims of abuse:

Si a los esquemas de retribución para las víctimas agregáramos también la disolución de aquellas organizaciones que, de forma comprobada, sirven de soporte para la ejecución de delitos que parten del abuso de la confianza de los líderes entonces estaríamos hablando de verdadera justicia y no sólo de cuensuelos efectistas.

If we could consider the dissolution of those organizations that, with proof, function as support of the achievement of crimes that abuse the trust of leaders in the system of retributions to the victims, then we would be talking about real justice and not only comfort done for effect.

On the same line, Twitter user Jose Pablo (@pouch15) used sarcasm to criticize the choice of words [es] reserved for religious leaders who are not treated as criminals:

Me encanta q los violadores son animales, degenerados, pero M Maciel y los curas pederastas son solo pecadores

I love that rapists are animals, degenerates, but M Maciel and pedophile priests are only sinners

Catholic blogger Fray Nelson wrote about how time extends Maciel’s crime [es] to include the secrecy of authorities and blind following:

Por supuesto, ningún Papa tiene super-poderes, a la manera de la visión de rayos X de Supermán, y por eso los engaños pueden suceder en cuanto a las opiniones de comportamientos morales, buenos o malos, de personas específicas. Y sin embargo, ya vemos cómo el tiempo es juez de mirada más profunda.

Of course, no Pope has super powers, similar to the X-ray vision of Superman, and that is why deceiving can happen regarding opinions on moral behavior, good or bad, of specific persons. However, we can see how time is a judge of deeper appreciation.

On the other side of the story, in the blog Mera Defensa de la Fe, written by Eleuterio Fernández Guzmán, a discussion unfolded whether the organization Legionaries of Christ, which Maciel founded in 1941, should also be held accountable for the crimes. The author replied a comment distinguishing [es] Maciel’s actions from the ones of the organization:

Los legionarios de Cristo no son Marcial Macial. Eso, simplemente, no puede ser. De ser así, seguramente nada se salvaría de las instituciones creadas por el ser humano.

The Legionaries of Christ are not Marcial Maciel. That, simply, cannot be. If it was so, surely no one could be safe from the institutions created by human beings.

However, the Legion has been subject of investigations due to its relationship with businesses, education, and even politics: the order extends to more than 20 countries and has 70,000 members, as Mexican journalist Raymundo Riva Palacio mentioned in a column for Eje Central [es].

In the same column, the journalist detailed an investigation of Maciel made for television in the late 1990s that important businessmen and even politicians like the staff of then-Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo tried to impede its release through a series of threats of canceling advertisement on the transmitting station. Moreover on the subject, a recent NYTimes follow-up article exposed the strong connections of the Legion of Christ order with large Mexican corporations and business leaders, like Telcel (businessman and millionaire Carlos Slim used to appear publicly with Maciel), Coparmex, Grupo Alfa, among others organizations that helped actively to cover-up the crimes of the priest.

User Ivonne commented Riva Palacios’s column [es] with her experience as reporter ten years ago:

Recuerdo mis días de reportera en REFORMA, donde (…) tocar el caso Maciel era como clavarles un dardo en el corszón. (…) Era, por desgracia, un acto ideológico revestido de ceguera fe católica. (…) Diez años después de aquel agravio personal (…), me doy por bien servida al atestiguar que han perdido todas sus batallas de pretendido dominio ideológico.

I remember my days as reporter in [grupo] REFORMA, where (…) to talk about the Maciel case was like stabbing a dart to the heart. (…) It was, unfortunately, an ideological act dressed by blinding Catholic faith. (…) Ten years after that personal attack (…), I feel pleased to witness that they have lost all their battles of pretend ideological governance.

1 comment

  • Aaron

    \The Legionaries of Christ are not Marcial Maciel. That, simply, cannot be. If it was so, surely no one could be safe from the institutions created by human beings.\

    The Vatican has very recently ended a long investigation with five bishops/archbishops appointed as investigators worldwide to investigate the LEGION OF CHRIST and NOT Marcial Maciel.

    The Apostolic Visitation did NOT have Marcial as the focus of the investigation, and it concluded that, in the words of the mexican Bishop visitator, the legion of christ is a damaged and bad vessel for its worthy members.

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