Rev. Luis Garza Medina,Vicar General of the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement gave an interview yesterday to Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper.
Fr. Garza said he did not know before 2006 that founder Rev. Marcial Maciel had fathered a child. He also said cases of sexual abuse by priests should be referred to civil law enforcement.
Garza said he only realized the accusations surrounding Maciel were true in 2006, when the Vatican sentenced Maciel to a "reserved life of penance and prayer." "It seemed impossible, the behavior of the founder seemed impeccable," Garza Medina told La Repubblica. "With the investigation finished, I verified the paternity that was attributed to Father Maciel; at which point it was clear that the accusations were well-founded."
Asked how even Maciel’s closest advisers — including himself — could have been kept in the dark, the Legionaries’ vicar general said: "It was difficult to understand that there were such immoral and aberrant actions on his part."
In Thursday’s interview, Fr. Garza laughed at the estimated net worth of the Legion which, according to Sandro Magister in the Italian newsweekly L’Espresso, is said to be some €25 billion ($33 billion). Garza said such estimates were "false." He said any profits that are made are immediately reinvested or put in pensions or medical care funds for its members. "In 2009, our activities in all the world produced about $40 million, which was reinvested," he said.
The case against Maciel has created something of a “perfect storm” for the Legion. Because of the worldwide scandal of clergy abuse the Pope will need to show that he is serious about rooting out clerical sex abuse and being more transparent. In this scenario the Maciel case will be closely watched as the Vatican faces pressure to aggressively confront abuse.
This morning, Pope Benedict XVI unexpectedly took part in a meeting at the Vatican over the fate of the Legionaries. Five Vatican representatives were reporting back after their investigation ("Apostolic Visitation”) into the conservative congregation, which was ordered last year by the pope. The Vatican spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Benedict had decided to stop by the meeting to greet participants and make an appearance. He said he did not expect the pope to attend the whole session.
A statement is expected at the end of the meeting later today.