28. SCANDAL OF THE LITTLE ONES. The clerical pederasty

Created: Wednesday, 30 October 2013 Last Updated: Monday, 31 March 2014

The clerical pederasty

1. Due to the clerical pederasty bad times spread for the Catholic Church. In February 2004, a report from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice signalled that in the United States, between 1950 and 2002, 4.392 priests were implicated in abuses to minors: between 4% and 4,3% of the priests.  In May , 2009, the Irish scandal  happened between the years 1950 – 1980, was made known. After almost 10 years of work, a commission of investigation made up to clear up the physical and sexual abuses upon 25.000 children reports that more than 400 religious men and one hundred secular have been accused by the victims. The Australia, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Holland and other countries scandals add up to those. Specially grave and notorious is the case of Marcial Maciel, founder of the Christ Legionaries. In the photograph he appears with John Paul II in his last meeting (11-30-2004)

2. Marcial Maciel Degollado was born in Cotija (Michoacan, Mexico) on March 10th 1920. Son of Francisco and Maura, he is a nephew of several generals christerus and of four bishops. Priest Rogelio Orozco, who took part on the foundation of the Legionaries and who was five years inside, was about ten years old when he met Maciel, who, at that time was fifteen. He affirms the following: “We knew about the lashes that some of his brothers gave to him. The most active was Francisco, but also Alfonso, because he did not make things right, according to them. He was like a stable lad. He was sent to take care of the pigs and they declared that that was the mission he had been born for. All the people talked about the maltreatment that he had at home” (F.M González, Marcial Maciel. The Legionaries of Christ: unpublished testimonies and documents, Tusquets, Barcelona, 2010, 65-66; forward on, FMG). Alejandro Espinosa, who was legionary and denounced abuses on the part of Maciel, affirms that Maciel, when a child, “was surprised many times enjoying sexual games with boys, not with girls, acts for which he was invariably punished” (J. Martinez de Velasco, The secret documents of the Legionaries of Christ; Ed. B, Barcelona, 2004, 13; forward on, JMV).

3. At mid 1937 Maciel goes to the seminary managed by his uncle Raphael, Veracruz bishop, in the city of Mexico. Still a seminarian, he tries to found a congregation with four boys. Rogelio Orozco says: “On May the 24th (1938) he took us, four little boys, to the capital. He placed us in a house belonging to great ladies and the complains with the uncle began. On June the 5th, the old ladies who  sheltered us went to him to complain. They left us in the lower floor and they went up to see him. We only heard the Mexican language of the bishop and his frenzied cries. How a seminarian could be doing this! The following day, the death of the bishop appeared in the newspaper. Then Maciel looked for his uncle Antonio, Chihuahua bishop, who sent him to the seminary in Montezuma” (FMG, 73).

4. Finished the first course, Maciel visits his uncle Antonio who receives him very irritated, telling him that “if he persisted in his intention of founding a congregation, he would retire him his support and he could not go back to Montezuma”. That happens on June the 17th 1940. Then Maciel resorts to Francisco González Arias, bishop of Cuernavaca, also linked to his family, although in less degree. This assigns him personal teachers in order to continue his ecclesiastic studies and, to found the group that he desired, he imposes Maciel to have economic solvency. On January the 3rd 1941 he starts the (School) “Apostolic Mission”, name that Maciel assigns at that moment to the group. Natalie Retes placed to his disposal the basement of her home, in the street Turin, 39, in Mexico city: “thirteen youngsters guided by a twenty years seminarian, theology student” 8FMG, 79 and 89). A priest was the rector.

5. First abuse confirmed (1944). Being in the house in Tlalpan, says one of the cofounder boys (AB), “he invited me to go to Mexico – I don’t know to the rest, I know my case – to Talita Retes´ home. WE slept in the same bed, when we could sleep each one in his bed because there was a cot and the main bed. He told me: No, come to sleep here. There was the first time that I Had that contact; he took my hand so that I masturbated him. I very scared, tremendously scared” (FMG, 93).

6. Luis Ferreira, who was general vicar of the Legionary, reports in a letter addressed to the general vicar of the archdiocese of Mexico, Francisco Orozco Lomeli, dated on August 23rd 1956: “Already in the first years of my collaboration in the work of father Maciel one apostolic brother came to me with conscience concerns due to certain ways in the treatment that father Maciel had with him when he was sick. Specifically the boy referred to shameless behaviour. That boy is today a religious man with perpetual vows in the Institute”, “the same that this brother said to me happened to one of his family brothers”, what made him to abandon the congregation. These facts came to the knowledge of Gonzalez Arias, Cuernavaca bishop, “who sponsored the congregation and who was almost decided to extinguish the newly born Work.” The bishop ordered his nephew priest on November 26th 1944. Luis Ferreira also writes: “By all the effects that I have been observing during the last six years, I think that already from then, Father Maciel was injecting himself narcotics like Dolantina, Sedol y Demerol” (FMG, 95-98, 449-450)

7. In his memories, Jesus Degollado Guízar, who was general in chief  Christerus and Maciel´s uncle, alludes to bishop Francisco González Arias like a member to the secret society “Catholic Mexicans Union”. This organization was key in the armed conflict (1926 – 1927) knows like “Christera revolution” (FMG, 86)

8. Maciel´s education was insufficient enough. Frederick Dominguez, who was his secretary from 1948 to 1952, and that, consequently, wrote his letters, signals that he had an awful orthography. Rogelio Orozco affirms that a teacher who had studied in the Gregorian and that was not ordained (he had a problem of alcohol abuse) “was the one who gave Maciel theology classes, when he even had not began to study the philosophy” (FMF, 102).

9. In October 1946, Maciel arrives to the Pontifical University of Comillas (Santander) with 34 seminarians. The canonical approval of the “Sacred Heart and Virgin of the Pains Missionaries”, official name of the congregation, takes place in 1948. Up to then it is “an extension of the minor seminary of the diocese of Cuernavaca” (JMV, 139). The genesis of the movement “Regnum Christi” begins to be conceived in 1949

10. Francisco Montes de Oca, who for some time delivered classes in Mexico to the seminarians of the congregation, affirms the following: “When I was with Maciel, I spoke with him about the name. I told him: why don’t you call them legionaries? And Maciel asked me: Of the Pope? I answered him: Why of the Pope. Further up, of Christ”. There was a politic connotation: “Because in Spain the legionaries were the bravest in the war”. Even in the post war several witnesses (Alejandro Espinosa, Jose Barba y Francisco Gonzalez Parga, among others) talk about the Nazi greeting “Heil Christus” that some disciples made, including the founder of the Legion. Montes de Oca says: “The franquist government was isolated and a group of students from Mexico was convenient” (FMG, 103 and 130).

11. The Spanish minister of Foreign Affairs, Alberto Martin Artajo, received Maciel, offered him scholarships and “he promised him his help to go to Rome so that the Pope (Pius XII) could approve the institution”. Besides, the Oriol family was “one of the most important supports”. Together with the financial support, this “allowed him to have access and to meet many of the most prominent and rich Spanish families” (J, Martinez de Velasco, The legionaries of Christ. The new army of the Pope, La esfera de los libros, Madrid, 2002, 38-39 and 250). Cardinal Nicola Canali arranged Maciel an appointment with cardinal Giuseppe Pizzardo, prefect of the Congregation of Seminaries and Universities, who gave him “a note of appreciation and recommendation” that the Spanish minister of Foreign Affairs had requested him (JMV, 136-137)

12. According with Jose Barba, an article of the Constitutions indicates the “good-looking and attractive appearance” that the candidates to the Legion should have. Fernando Perez Olvera, former member of the Legion affirms: “In Comillas I had the first news of something (but) at that moment I did not suspect anything. Alcala told me: Listen, did not father Maciel call on you to fondle his stomach? I answered him negatively. But I thought that I would be happy to be called, because all of us intended to call Maciel´s attention. In Cobreces I began to notice something. When we went to France to the votes of the novices, I saw that couples were formed and that they touched each other in the bus in a non allowed way. For instance, one laid down in the legs of the other, and so on” (FMG, 130 and 139).

13. Fernando Perez affirms that in 1949, being in Cobreces, priest Luis Ferreira abused him: “I went to confess and he sat me in his left leg, and I told him I have had sexual touching and, all of a sudden, he grabbed my penis”, “when I got out of the Legion, I went again to confess with him in Tlalpan…I told him I had masturbated myself. There in fact, he unbuttoned my flies and he manipulated me, and them in a new reaction he gave me the absolution” (FMG, 149).

14. In October 1952, Maciel moves the vocational centre (minor seminary) from Cobreces to Ontaneda, also in Santander province. Ontaneda has had several steps in the cases of sexual abuses to minors (1979, 1982, 1991); “The strongest period was in the years 81-82, where they had to practically empty the centre”, says Chilean Patricio Cerda, who was Legionary. At the end of the 80´s and the beginning of the 90´s, father Patricio, prefect of the centre, had to confront the raw reality: “the seminary had practically become a brothel house where the apostolic were object of paedophilia practices on the part of some of the responsible and instructors” (JMV, 217)

15. Discipline is rigid; obedience, blind: “The secret is in the effort to depersonalize oneself fully practicing the criteria of the Legion and the rules of the founder. His humility and obedience will be overwhelmingly prized by the Lord” (Letter form Maciel num 232, 24th October 1954) Inside the Legion, uniformity is the rule: “Try to cultivate the uniformity, internal: in criteria and will, as well as external: in the way of dressing, of celebrating the Eucharist, and soon”. (Constitutions, num. 265). Control in total: “The Rector or Centre Superior, or other religious by him designated, should revise all the letters and will deliver those judged opportune” (ib., num 383; JMV, 111-112; 118 and 150).

16.The image presented by Maciel made him “to look like a saint” (Flora Garza). To it contributed his devote manner of celebrating the Mass and of falling in ecstasy during the consecration: “it looked like he hang on the host”, some said. “All fundamentalist Vatican sectors, cardinals and those aligned to the right or ultra right saw him with an enormous admiration. Also the great Mexican tycoons… There, were concentrated the efforts of the Legion. When they arrived to Rome it was necessary to receive them, to stroll them and to take them to an audience with the Pope” (FMG, 187 and 198)

17. On August 24th 1954, Federico Dominguez reports Francisco Orozco, general vicar of the Mexico archdiocese: “Even knowing (because I can assure that several doctors have advised him of it) of the grave psychological and  organic consequence that the fact takes with it, father Maciel takes in his illnesses (and very often, we can conjecture) injections containing narcotics, injections that he gets wherever it be, at any price and by any means”.

18. A letter addressed to the Congregation of Religious, signed by the Franciscan Callisto Lopinot, at the end of January 1956, refers to Maciel´s addiction. A catholic churchgoing doctor “declares that this priest is morphine addict, and that he has had a hard crisis product of the morphine he has taken and that he continues trying to get it for him” According to a later document (March the 28th 1962) we talk about doctor Walter Behrens, resident in Rome, Via Chiana 93 (FMG, 227 and 230). On October the 11th 1956, the Vatican opened an interrogation. Those interrogated were instructed: Vatican visitors “did not come with good intentions” (FMG, 272). Among his fans, Maciel justified his abuses with a supposed pain, a “semen retention” . He said he had an exception from Pius XII to “alleviate himself”

19. Cardinal Valerio Valeri, prefect of the Congregation of Religious, found Maciel “still drooling due to the dose of morphine in Rome´s Salvador Mundi hospital” (JMV, 27) On September the 21st 1956, the cardinal asks the State Secretary to forward to the Apostolic Delegation of Mexico “the suspension of father Maciel like general superior, and the order for him to retire to recover in a clinic, suggesting that father Ferreira take over the position”. A little later, on October the 3rd , Maciel writes to cardinal Valeri: “My health conditions are, thanks God, completely satisfactory, as it may be confirmed by the medical certificate issued after a meticulous and detailed clinic examination, by professor doctor Ricardo Galeazzi Lisi, pontifical specialist, that I allowed myself to join the present”, “so that; the reports received in that Sacred Congregation are not more than a slanderous accusation” (FMG, 253)

20. Manuel Castro Perez, vice president of  San Sebastian’s Official College of  Pharmacia, sends to the secretary of the Congregation of Religious u detailed report of the facts that happened between the 18th and the 23rd March 1962.  Maciel´s illness, shown like a “nephritic colic”, was for Manuel Castro a galloping addition that would not stop before any circumstance. San Sebastian bishop confidentially reported to the secretary of  cardinal Gaetano Cicognani that father Maciel “had made a grave show in the Hotel continental. The bishop received a telephonic call from Madrid apostolic Nunciature´s  auditor advisor, telling him that father Maciel was in a very grave difficulty with San Sebastian police: The auditor pleaded the bishop to lend unconditional support to father Maciel, being an excellent religious, so that he may leave Spain”, “his Excellency was very impressed by the very high sum of money (350.000 pesetas) that Maciel offered to gain the silence of the Spanish police”. The Congregation of Religious, which promotes the aperture of the case Maciel, cannot proceed further on “due to the recommendations and interventions of high personalities” (FMG, 350 and 357)

21. On October the 20th 1976 Juan Jose Vaca reproaches in a letter to Maciel “the incalculably grave harm” that he provoked to “so many youngsters and teenagers”. He cites names and last names of twenty people who suffered like himself the same abuses: “Aggravating it more and more your abuses against us, I spent my two years of novitiate, my two years of junior, my three years of philosophy, the first three  years of my theology” (FMG, 476-477)

22. On February 23rd 1997, in the Connecticut newspaper “The Hartford Courant”, nine late members of the Legion say to have been victims of sexual abuses on the part of Maciel. These are: José Barba Martín, Arturo Jurado Guzman, José Antonio Perez Olvera, Alejandro Espinosa Alcala, Juan José Vaca Rodriguez, Saul Barrales Arellano, Fernando Perez Olvera, Felix Alarcon Hoyos y Juan Manuel Fernandez Amenábar, who denounced Maciel before dying in 1995. All of them claim that “at the end of the 40´s, in the 50´s and at the beginning of the 60´s, specially in the stage in which they were teenagers and were living in Spain and Italy seminaries under Maciel´s tutelage, they were subdued by him to diverse sexual abuses” (A. Torres, The prodigious adventure of the Legionaries of Christ, Foca, Madrid, 2001, 270; JMV, Christ´s legionaries, 317-318). The accusers maintain that “among the 40´s and at least up to the end of the 60´s, Maciel abused sexually of another 30 boys” (JMV, Christ´s legionaries, 336).

23. As soon as he had news of the accusations against him, Maciel issues a denial to the newspaper director: “I don’t know what had taken them to make these totally false accusations, twenty, thirty of forty years after the facts have taken place. I am surprised, because I still keep letters from some of them, written in the 70´s, in which they show their gratitude and friendship. In spite of all the moral pain suffered, I don’t desire them any evil. I pray so that they may recover the peace and they erase from their hearts any resentment that had taken them to throw those falsenesses.

24 The victims “decided to disclose their denounces, tired to see how John Paul II, instead of opening an investigation in the canonical field to discover the truthfulness of their denounce, what he was doing was to raise more and more the founder of the Legion, blessing him publically like spiritual father and efficient guide of the youth”. (5-12-1994; AT, 269). The subject reached cardinal Ratzinger, who received two denounces: one signed by eight former members of the Legion and presented on October, 17th 1998 by the canonist of the Archdiocese of Mexico, Antonio Roqueñi, to the canonist credited in the Vatican, Martha Wegan; the other one, presented in 1999 through the bishop Carlos Talavera, on the part of priest Alberto Athie, who had compromised himself with Juan Fernandez Amenábar, already dead, to deliver his testimony to Ratzinger. The cardinal told bishop Talavera that “he did not consider prudent to open the case because the person accused was very dear to the Holy Father and that he had helped the church very much” On his part, Martha Wegan reports to the accusers: “Gentlemen, I have been told that the subject was very sensitive and that by now it is retained, what means that it will be delayed indefinitely” (FMG, 420).

25. On may the 18th 2001, cardinal Ratzinger published the Decree about the most grave felonies, eliminating the  non-prescription of the felony “accomplice absolution” (c. 1378). Doing so, it neutralized the denounce presented against Maciel, precisely based on such crime committed from the middle of the 40´s. On April the 21st 2004, with the intercession of Chilean cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez, the former legionary Patricio Cerda delivers cardinal Ratzinger a dossier with denounces. The cardinal promises to “take matters in his hands”. On November the 30th 2004 John Paul II celebrates in a solemn manner the sixty anniversary of  Maciel´s priestly ordination. On January 2005 Maciel is re-elected general superior, but he renounces. He is substituted by Alvaro Corcuera, who interprets it like and act of Maciel´s  “immense humility, caution and wisdom”. On May the 19th 2006, the  Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith “decided, taking into account the advanced age of father Maciel, to renounce to a canonical process and to invite the father to a reserved life in prayer and penance, giving up any public ministry. The holy father has approved  these decisions.” The felonies of which Maciel is accused are not mentioned. Besides, impression is given that the accusations arrived too late. (FMG, 421 – 424; JMV, 309)

26. In the Legion of Christ paedophilia’s history does not become exhausted with Maciel´s abuses towards the group of boys forced more than fifty years ago, but it produced effects inside the institution itself with paedophilia nets that even involved students of its colleges, as it happened in the Institute Cumbres of Mexico, in 1970 and 1983, and in the Institute Cumbres of Cancun, in 1991 (FMG, 417). Maciel dies in Florida (USA), on January the 30th 2008. His mother “is presently under beatification process”. His uncle Rafael was canonized by John Paul II (J. Rubio, Tolerance zero. Benedict XVI crusade against pederasty in the Church, DDB, Bilbao, 2010, 123 – 124). There are many who expect “the day of the judgement” to arrive for the founder of the Legionaries, but “they want it here in the Earth”, “that earthly judgement could be near, if it were possible to end with the support that Maciel has in the Vatican” (JMV, 302)

27. On February 2009 the newspaper “New York Times” confirms that Maciel has a relationship with the Mexican female Norma Hilda Baños, with whom he had a daughter, Norma Hilda Rivas. They live in Madrid. It is Maciel´s family in Spain. On April the 5th the Pope order an apostolic visit of five bishops (among them Ricardo Blazquez) to the centres of the Legion. On March the 3rd 2010, in the program “News MVS”, Mexican newspaper woman Carmen Aristegui interviews Blanca Estela Lara Gutierrez and her sons Omar, Raul and Christian Gonzalez Lara. The first one adopted by Maciel, is a son of a former marriage. The other two are Maciel´s sons. Blanca Lara and her sons found out Maciel´s identity in 1997, when they saw his photography in the cover of the magazine “Contenido”. In the interview Omar and Raul narrate the sexual abuses that his father made against them throughout 8 years. They knew him like Jose Rivas or Jose Gonzalez, CIA’s agent of private detective.

28. On May the 1st 2010, after the apostolic visit of the five bishops to the Legion’s centres, the Vatican emits a statement. Maciel´s behaviour “has caused serious consequences in the life and in the structure of the Legion, up to the point of making necessary a deep revision way”, “the very grave behaviour and objectively immoral of Father Maciel, confirmed by unquestionable testimonies, some times represent  true crimes and reveal a life lacking care and of a true religious sentiment”. The statement gathers “the need to revise the exercise of authority, which must be joined to the truth”. On July the 9th, Velasio de Paolis, president of the Prefecture of the Economical Business, is appointed pontifical delegate for the Legionaries.

29. Carmen Aristegui, author of the book “Marcial Maciel, history of a criminal”, comments: “The children narrate how they were abused and how he bought the silence”. She explains “how Maciel obtained the money to maintain them, how he made a millionaire patrimony in Spain and Mexico, from this factory of money that were the Colleges, the Universities, the Seminaries. He placed his families in the 10% of the richest population of these two countries. To educate the rich is very productive and he knew it better than anybody” (Redes Cristianas, 18-12-2010).

30. How to judge the abuse of minors at the light of the Gospel? The passage of the scandal of the minors is pertinent and applicable. Jesus´ words are very hard: “If one of you scandalizes one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for him to be thrown into the depths of the sea with a great millstone around the neck.” (Mt 18, 6)

31. The crime of the paedophilia appears in the Catholic Church with proportions present neither in other Christian confessions nor in the first communities. Beyond the personal responsibility of each case it is possible to ask: is it a defect of factory?, does it have anything to do with the volunteer celibacy?, is the priestly model in question?, is the ecclesial model in question?. In the initial times there was no seminaries, there was communities. In those, there was a plurality of charismas; among them, that of leadership (1 Co 12, 28). “You are not missing any gift” (1, 7), says Paul to the community of Corinth.  He also says: “As far as the celibacy is concerned, I have no mandate from the Lord” (7, 25). It is one of the great council inspirations: it is necessary to come back to the sources

* Dialogue: about the clerical paedophilia
- what does the massive scandals of clerical pederasty mean?, are they present in other Christian confessions?, are they present in the first communities?
- Maciel´s case is specially grave and notorious
- how many minor seminarians were victims of his abuses?
- was he an addict to morphine?
- did he have two families?
- did he abuse of his own children?
- are his instruction methods a brain washing?
- what does it happen with the organization he founded?
- who hid his crimes for more than 50 years?
- Which responsibility had his protector John Paul II?
- was there covering?
- is already judgement day
- beyond the personal responsibility of each case, is there a defect of factory?, does it have anything to do with the volunteer celibacy?, is the priestly model in question?, is the ecclesial model in question?.