Tuesday, February 2, 2010

An Exorcism for Fr. Marcial Maciel?

On Sunday night, January 31st, 2010 I read the online "supplement" to the Spanish newspaper "El Mundo." I still have not quite figured out what I read. The report is not easy to digest! It marks the second anniversary of the death of the founder of the Legion of Christ. Let me share my paraphrase of some of the content, which I'll translate from the original Spanish. I have added no comments of my own. Time will tell - or will it? - if this is more sensationalist reporting. To my mind the tone is not particularly polemic. "Inquiring minds want to know." However, if Maciel suffered from senile dementia as he approached his death, a version I heard from sources I respect, then anything is possible. Whether the intimate dying moments of a troubled soul, surrounded by members of his "family",  is fair game for the media is another question entirely. Here is the summary of "El Mundo's" report:

The El Mundo reporters affirm that
  1. Maciel died in Jacksonville, Florida in a luxurious Legionary home despite conflicting press reports that he died either in Houston, Texas, Washington, Cotija (his hometown in Mexico), or Jacksonville.
  2. Something horrible occurred in the room where he died on January 30, 2008
  3. Slightly over a dozen people accompanied him in his final moments
  4. The man who died had, at least,  five separate identities:
    • Raul Rivas, lover of Norma Hilda and father of their daughter
    • Jaime Alberto González Ramírez, father of three children in Cuernavaca, by a different lover
    • Father of a son in England
    • Father of a daughter in Switzerland
    • Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ
  5. The cause of his death is unclear - some say it was the result of liver cancer, others that it was the outcome of open heart surgery in Houston in 2003, others senile dementia.
  6. Ten or eleven Legionaries resided at the Jacksonville home with him. On January 30, 2008, they were joined by Fr. Alvaro Corcuera, Director General of the Legion, Fr. Luis Garza Medina, Vicar General, Fr. Evaristo Sada, Secretary General, Marcelino de Andrés in executor of a trust for the children, Fr. Alfonso Corona, a Legionary Superior, and Fr. John Devlin, personal secretary to Maciel, Norma Hilda Sr. and Norma daughter.
  7. As an extra precaution, an exorcist was also present. Why?
  8. During the two years prior to his death, Maciel seemed to have lost his faith. He did not go to Mass, he did not pray. Some Legionaries who were with him say he "felt repulsed by the Legion."
  9. The reporters speculate: anecdotal information suggests strange occurrences at the house where he lived in 1946 - apparitions of "balls of fire" and "rabid dogs"... does this mean demonic connections?  Someone must gave taken this seriously in order to have an exorcist present at the home in Jacksonville.
  10. Six months before his death, Legionaries brought Maciel to a trusted hospital in Miami, where he spent three days. On the second day, both Normas showed up to take care of him, with his consent, much to the consternation of the Legionaries. Upon his discharge, he wanted to leave with the women. A call to Rome got Fr. Luis Garza on the next flight to Miami, following consultation with Fr. Alvaro. Fr. Luis gave Maciel an ultimatum: leave with me within the next two hours or I will call the media to let them know who you really are. Maciel gave in.
  11. Before his death, Maciel's health deteriorated. His Legionary caretakers found it difficult to deal with their founder as a frail, elderly person. His last hours were especially difficult for them - Maciel refused to go to confession; he did not want - nor did he believe in - God's forgiveness.
  12. Fr. Alvaro persuaded Maciel to examine his conscience. Fr. Alvaro has shared some details: Maciel died with a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe in front of him. On a piece of paper, he wrote - in Latin - "and the Word was made flesh." Only those who were in his death chamber with him know for sure if he repented, confessed and was absolved.
  13. Fr. Alfredo Torres, 83 years old, the only remaining survivor of the co-founders says "we can go either of two ways - the Church or the street. I will always follow Christ's Church. I accept whatever the Pope says, no matter what he decides. When asked if the reporters should publish details of Maciel's confession - or lack thereof - and whether they should mention the presence of the exorcist, Fr. Alfredo said, "Go ahead, you have to make a living. It will make the people who were involved reflect on what happened."

    The report goes on to speculate whether or not the directors of the Legion will indeed "reflect." It says that between 100 - 150 Legionary priests await the outcome of the Vatican's "Apostolic Visitation" the results of which are due in March. Based on the outcome they will remain in the Legion or choose to leave.
    The reporters state that Fr. Alvaro has sent a letter to the Mexican lawyer representing the three Mexican children who claim Maciel is their father in which he acknowledges that the middle child is indeed Maciel's.   The Bahamian trust fund left by Maciel for them has already been made available to them.


    Anonymous said...

    During the two years prior to his death, Maciel seemed to have lost his faith?? Fr. Maciel never had faith to start with, so he lost nothing.

    L Newington said...

    It is unforgivable that Rome forced this man/priest to live a lie for so long. He was pampered by John Paul 11 and the coffers were rolling in. He's not the first Religious Order priest to be placed on the circuit to distract any hint of personal problems.
    If the beloved Holy Father of us all had advised him leave religious life a lot of heartache for the Congregation he founded and the children he fathered would have been less.

    Anonymous said...

    I remember in some of Fr. Maciel's writings, when he talks about his faith being the most (or only) important thing in his life, he says something to the effect of, "if any man were to ever rob me of my faith, I would kill that man." Such a statement makes me wonder when Fr. Maciel really did begin to lose his faith, and if he ever did kill anyone, either as a response to his lost faith or as the catalyst for losing it. The story told her is very disturbing, and I hope for the sake of his soul and of the Legion, that the demons that were upon him were expelled and that he confessed before dying.

    Anonymous said...

    This man was exiled from Rome for some years, before being allowed back, because of allegations about his behavior. I'm baffled as to why nobody managed to get to the truth before Msgr Scicluna