In 1941 Rev. Marcial Maciel founded the ultra-conservative Legionaries of Christ, an order that has grown to include about 800 priests and 70000 lay affiliates. In 2006, he was given a slap on the wrist by the Vatican after it was discovered that he molested and former seminarians. (Maciel died in 2007 at the age of 87).
Recent blog posts emerged claiming that despite his strong Catholic teachings Maciel fathered at least one child. The late priest’s double life was said to have lasted “for many years” and included having an affair with a mistress.
The hypocrisy of a priest who couldn’t practice what he preached has rocked the Vatican beyond the Pope Benedict XVII’s controversial de-excommunication decision. The scandal over Maciel’s secret doings has undoubtedly hurt the Legionaries of Christ, which at times appeared to be a cult of personality:
“Father Maciel was this mythical hero who was put on a pedestal and had all the answers,” (Rev. Stephen Fichter) said. “When you become a Legionarie, you have to read every letter Father Maciel ever wrote, like 15 or 16 volumes. To hear he’s been having this double life on the side, I just don’t see how they’re going to continue”…Image- Catholic News Agency
Father Fichter added: “As Legionaries, we were taught a very strict poverty; if I went out of town and bought a Bic pen and a chocolate bar, I would have to turn in the receipts. And yet for Father Maciel there was never any accounting. It was always cash, never any paper trail. And because he was this incredible hero to us, we never even questioned it for a second.”
Online Sources- The Telegraph, BBC News, New York Times, Catholic Online, Reuters, IHT