The Le­gionar­ies of Christ:

Who are they?

The Irish Times - Weekend Review - - FRONT PAGE -

The Le­gionar­ies of Christ was founded by the late Mar­cial Ma­ciel De­gol­lado in Mex­ico in 1941, and grew to be a rich and con­tro­ver­sial Catholic order with rep­re­sen­ta­tives and as­sets around the world, in­clud­ing in Ire­land, where it has had a pres­ence since the early 1960s.

Ma­ciel tar­geted wealthy and in­flu­en­tial fam­i­lies and in­di­vid­u­als be­liev­ing that by work­ing with the rich and pow­er­ful he could in turn in­flu­ence so­ci­ety in gen­eral. Mex­i­can bil­lion­aire Car­los Slim is among those who have sup­ported the order.

How­ever, it has since emerged that Ma­ciel had a prac­tice of trav­el­ling with thou­sands of euro in cash on his per­son, that he used mul­ti­ple iden­ti­ties, fa­thered two fam­i­lies which he fi­nan­cially sup­ported, and was for decades the sub­ject of se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions that he sex­u­ally abused the order’s sem­i­nar­i­ans and ig­nored the crimes of other abusers in the order.

At the time of the canon­i­sa­tion of John Paul II in 2014, a sup­port group for vic­tims of cler­i­cal sex­ual abuse protested in Rome be­cause of the late pope’s long-time open sup­port for Ma­ciel, who was be­lieved to have pow­er­ful de­fend­ers in the Vat­i­can de­spite decades of se­ri­ous ac­cu­sa­tions against him that were known at the high­est lev­els.

In 2015, Pope Fran­cis spoke to Mex­i­can TV about Ma­ciel. “Ob­vi­ously he was a very sick per­son, be­cause in ad­di­tion to the abuse, I think there were two or three women in the mix, chil­dren... And a lot of money. We’re get­ting back to the same theme, about how cor­rup­tion starts in one’s pocket.

“Was there a cover-up? One can pre­sume that there was, even though in jus­tice one should al­ways as­sume in­no­cence. But it would be very odd for him not to have some lit­tle pa­tron some­where, half-de­ceived, half-sus­pect­ing, who didn’t know any­thing. I haven’t in­ves­ti­gated this.”

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