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Legionaries ‘unreformed’, warns priest (The Tablet, 4 Sept. 2010, p. 38)

An Irish member of the Legionaries of Christ (LC) who works in Mexico has complained to superiors in Rome that some communities of the order continue to display photos of their disgraced late founder, Fr Marcial Maciel. And he claims that some of them are perpetuating his “immoral practice” of using the sacraments to persuade the rich to donate money Fr Peter Byrne, whose parish lies in the popular tourist resort of Cancún, in the state of Quintana Roo, claims that “the structures of power imposed by Fr Maciel still remain in force today” despite a decree by Pope Benedict XVI that began a reform of the beleaguered order earlier this year.

In a 27 July letter to the LC general director, Fr Alvaro Corquera, the Irish priest complains that “nothing has changed among us during the whole period of crisis”. The text was made public this week by Italian journalist Sandro Magister.

Fr Byrne calls for the removal of all photos of Maciel and the immediate transformation of his shrine-birthplace in the Mexican town of Cotija into a “home of reparation” for the victims the late founder sexually abused when they were children.

“I address myself to you in sorrow and shame,” the priest begins in his letter to Fr Corquera. “The sorrow is increased by the knowledge that sending you this letter will again be a useless effort, as have my other letters and suggestions to you and other superiors,” he writes. Fr Corquera has remained general director even though the Pope appointed Archbishop Velasio De Paolis as his personal delegate with full authority over the order.

In his letter, Fr Byrne says that in LC establishments he visited recently in San Salvador, Canada and Cancún there were pictures of Maciel prominently on display.

The priest said he “also noticed that in Mexico” LC leaders were “grooming” wealthy families “then tapping into their money”. “This is a methodology that was institutionalised by the deceased founder, who lived a life without scruples,” he said.
 


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