30-year-old Raul Gonzalez Lara, of Mexico, says he is the secret son of Father Marcial Maciel. Raul is now speaking out publicly about his father’s abuse and the double life he led. He claims the Vatican protected the man he knew as his father for decades. In the lawsuit, Gonzalez claims he, and other children, were sexually abused by Father Maciel during his time as director of the Legionaries of Christ, a congregation he founded in 1941.
Gonzalez is represented by Jeffery Anderson and Joel Faxon. According to the Washington Post:
"Over the years, Anderson has earned millions from his lawsuits against the church and other institutions, collecting 25 to 40 percent of each payout. He estimated in 2002 that his victories had totaled $60 million, but refuses to update the figure." The Post adds, "Anderson says he has filed more than 1,500 lawsuits against the Catholic Church, plus 2,000 to 3,000 against other individuals and entities, including other denominations. He estimates that 75 percent yield no money for himself or his clients, often due to a statute of limitations."
There does not seem to be anything new revealed in the Gonzalez lawsuit. The young man's claims have been widely publicized in Mexico and the Spanish language media. The story fizzled in Mexico when it was revealed the young man allegedly sought a large financial payout from the Legionaries in exchange for his silence. That was when his Mexican attorney dropped him as a client although he claimed to continue to believe the young man's story. However, news of the Connecticut lawsuit has caused a media stir in the US. Gonzalez was featured on ABC's "Nightline" and on at least one Connecticut TV station.
I wonder about the tactics behind this lawsuit. Obviously I am not an attorney, but I would think there have to be major jurisdictional issues. The Legion is headquartered in Rome and the young man is apparently a resident of Mexico. I suppose it could be a ploy to pressure for out-of-court settlements.
Whatever the outcome, the behavior of the now deceased Fr. Marcial Maciel, continues to cause great suffering to his victims, to the Vatican, to the legionaries of Christ and to the faithful at large. On May 1st. the Vatican announced it would shorty appoint a representative to oversee the reform of the Legion. Rumor has it that the leading candidate for the job is Archbishop Velasio DePaolis, 74. He would have full powers to lead the reconstitution of the controversial congregation. De Paolis has served as head of the prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See since 2008; prior to that, he spent five years as the number two person of the Apostolic Signatura, the church's highest court. He is allegedly a close friend of the Vatican's influenential Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone SDB.
The sooner the Vatican makes its move the better for all concerned. This is a case where it seems to me no good is gained by political and bureaucratic foot-dragging.