Abuse vic­tims of Le­gion of Christ leader seek re­dress

Sunday Tribune - - FRONT PAGE -

VAT­I­CAN CITY: The Le­gion of Christ re­li­gious or­der has said it would try to re­spond to re­quests for com­pen­sa­tion from for­mer sem­i­nar­i­ans who were sex­u­ally abused by its founder, and then dis­cred­ited for hav­ing pub­licly de­nounced him.

Eight vic­tims of the Rev­erend Mar­cial Ma­ciel pe­ti­tioned the Le­gion’s re­cently con­cluded lead­er­ship meet­ing seek­ing pub­lic recog­ni­tion of their sta­tus as “his­toric” vic­tims of Ma­ciel and the or­der, which mounted a pro­longed cam­paign to de­fame them after they went pub­lic with their al­le­ga­tions in 1997. Some of the men are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing fi­nan­cial and med­i­cal hard­ships as they age.

The Le­gion, in a state­ment, said its lead­ers “will try to get in touch per­son­ally with each of those who had signed the letter and re­spond to their re­quests”. It re­peated the Le­gion’s 2014 of­fi­cial apol­ogy to vic­tims and its “com­mit­ment to con­tinue seek­ing rec­on­cil­i­a­tion”.

The Mex­ico-based or­der was one of the fastest-grow­ing con­gre­ga­tions in the church but suf­fered a cred­i­bil­ity crisis in 2009 fol­low­ing rev­e­la­tions that Ma­ciel sex­u­ally abused his sem­i­nar­i­ans, fa­thered three chil­dren and cre­ated a cult­like or­der to hide his dou­ble life.

The Vat­i­can knew of al­le­ga­tions against Ma­ciel since the 1950s, but only took ac­tion against him in 2006, sen­tenc­ing him to a life­time of penance and prayer for un­spec­i­fied crimes. He died in 2008.

In the letter, dated March 26, the vic­tims asked that a com­pen­sa­tion com­mis­sion be re­opened to con­sider their cases. For a va­ri­ety of rea­sons, the eight men never ap­proached the orig­i­nal com­mis­sion, and they lamented that the com­mis­sion never con­tacted them.

The men, all Mex­i­can cit­i­zens, had lodged the orig­i­nal of­fi­cial church com­plaint against Ma­ciel in 1998 that led to his canonical sen­tence and the even­tual rev­e­la­tions of his crimes. They asked that they be pub­licly recog­nised as hav­ing served the church and the Le­gion in their long strug­gle to re­veal the truth. – Ap/african News Agency/ana

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