||Home > Church > 2014-02-07 11:16:14
Legionaries elect new leader, apologize to Maciel's victims
Feb 7, 2014: The Legionaries of Christ have elected a new leader, and issued a statement apologizing to the victims of the late Father Marcial Maciel and acknowledging that the order was guilty of “excessive exaltation” of its founder.
Father Eduardo Robles Gil, a Mexican priest, was elected director general of the Legionaries by the general chapter of the order, meeting in Rome. His election was confirmed by Archbishop José Rodriguez Carballo, the secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for Religious.
In a statement released on February 6 along with the announcement of the order’s new leadership, the Legionaries addressed the difficulties that the order has experienced since the revelations that Father Maciel had led a double life. The statement says that “we hope to be able to redeem our painful history and overcome with good the consequences of evil.”
The Legionaries’ statement acknowledges the damage that Father Maciel did, and expresses “our the arbitrary use of his authority and of material goods, the indiscriminate consumption of addictive medicines and the act of presenting writings published by third parties as his own.” The group says that the behavior of the founder, who maintained an appearance of piety while engaging in grossly immoral behavior, was “incomprehensible.”
The statement also acknowledges that other members of the Legion defended their leader for too long in the face of mounting evidence. As a group, the statement says, the order “gave undue, universal value of Father Maciel’s directives.” The new leadership apologizes to the founder’s victims, saying: “We are grieved that many victims and other affected persons have waited so long in vain for an apology and an act of reconciliation on the part of Father Maciel.”
However, despite the perfidy of the founder, the Legionaries insist that their order, which was modeled on Father Maciel’s orders and guidance, can recover from the damage. Rejecting suggestions that the Legionaries should be disbanded, the statement says that “a religious congregation and its essential features do not have their origin in the person of the founder; they are a gift of God that the Church accepts and approves and that afterwards live in the institute and in its members.”
Father Robles, the new director general, echoed that sentiment in his own personal statement. “We can’t erase the past,” he said. “We have to learn the lessons, mourn what occurred, trust in God’s mercy and, like St. Paul, run forward in pursuit of the goal of reaching Christ.” Father Robles has served various positions in the leadership of the Legionaries in Spain, Brazil, Chile, and his native Mexico. In 2011 he was appointed by Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, the Pope’s personal representative, to head a committee reaching out to the victims of Father Maciel.
In announcing their new leadership, the Legionaries said that a thorough investigation had been done of the order’s past leadership, and the degree to which other priests had been complicit with Father Maciel. The statement said that these investigations have now been concluded.