Friday, February 13, 2009
Open Letter to the Legionaries of Christ
Petition Petition to the Legion of Christ
St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, pray for us.
February 11, 2009
Petition/Open Letter to the Legionaries of Christ
Dear Fr. Corcuera and the Legionaries of Christ:
As friends of the Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi, we are writing to you out of loving concern following the recent news regarding Fr. Marcial Maciel.
While we, the undersigned, may not agree with every particular nuance in this petition, we agree with its overall substance and intention.
As Catholics, our first concern is for any possible victims of Fr. Maciel's conduct. We pray that God's healing grace may bind their wounds and comfort them.
Our thoughts also turn to the many devout members of the movement who must now contend with the revelations of Fr. Maciel's gravely sinful acts.
We pledge our prayers and sacrifices on behalf of any victims as well as the members of the Legion and Regnum Christi.
We are, however, concerned that many important questions remain unanswered since the Legion's disclosure that Fr. Maciel fathered a child and committed acts "not appropriate for a Catholic priest." The lack of official information, and the seemingly haphazard nature of the statements coming from various members of the movement causes confusion and even contributes to a sense of mistrust.
We must state frankly that for many of us, this sense of mistrust began to build in May of 2006. At that time, as the result of its canonical process, the Vatican invited Fr. Maciel to “a life of prayer and penance, renouncing all public ministry.”
The Legion's official public response to the Vatican on this matter included the following: "Father Maciel, with the spirit of obedience to the Church that has always characterized him, has accepted this communiqué with faith, complete serenity and tranquility of conscience.”
At the time, many of us considered this an unfitting response because it seemed to consider the Holy Father's decision only in terms of the Legion's desire to continue its defense of Fr. Maciel. At the very least, the Legion should have accepted the Holy Father's decision without publicly repeating its support of Fr. Maciel's innocence when there was evidence to the contrary significant enough to cause the Legion to subsequently open its own internal investigation. Such public insistence on Fr. Maciel's innocence even after the Vatican's decision caused grave concerns and mistrust regarding the judgment of at least some members of the Legion.
With the recent turn of events, we see that this sense of mistrust was entirely justified. Not only was the communiqué handled poorly, Fr. Maciel indeed did not have a clear conscience. The beginning of a remedy for this mistrust is greater disclosure followed by public, concrete actions.
At this date, the official statements from the Legion's leadership reveal few facts about the nature and extent of Fr. Maciel's misconduct, and give no indication whether the factors that contributed to his misconduct have been addressed or how the Legion plans to seek justice for any victims.
We urge you to disclose the following information as soon as possible:
1. Was Fr. Maciel's involvement with a mistress, resulting in a child, part of a larger pattern of sexual or other misconduct and abuse? Did other members of the Legion abet or conceal vicious deeds, and if so how has the Legion dealt with this information?
2. Were there structural problems within the Legion that contributed to its founder's abuse of authority, and if so, what steps have or will be taken to identify and remedy this?
3. How does the Legion plan to dialogue with any victims, receive their versions of events, come to some kind of determination and evaluation, and make amends? (It is our understanding that most who claimed to be victims are still alive and therefore we are not persuaded that the passage of time diminishes the responsibility of the Legion in this matter. It may diminish the degree of certitude that can be reached regarding Fr. Maciel's specific actions, but it does not diminish the responsibility of trying wholeheartedly to arrive at the truth.)
We also ask the Legion's leadership to undertake the following acts of investigation, renewal, and reparation:
1. Publicly acknowledge that the communiqué issued in response to Pope Benedict's decision in May, 2006 was, at best, unfitting. The Legion may very well have acknowledged this personally to the Holy Father. However, we the faithful need to hear from the Legion that they understand this crucial concern.
2. Request the Holy Father designate an independent commission to conduct a full investigation of the Legionaries of Christ with respect to the misconduct of Fr. Maciel and any persons who may have knowingly aided his sinful actions.
3. With the permission of the Holy See, publish the key results of this investigation.
4. Undertake to fully and immediately obey all directives from Church authorities that may result from the investigation.
5. If this is not already accomplished in #2 above, establish direct contact between the Legion and those persons who have already leveled formal accusations against Fr. Maciel to hear the basis for their accusations and to weigh their side of the story.
6. If there is, in good conscience, substantial reason to believe specific persons were indeed victimized by Fr. Maciel, make reparation to them.
7. Publicly request the forgiveness of any victims for the grave sins of Fr. Maciel and dedicate a period of prayer and penance for reparation and renewal.
We understand that this is a time of grief and deep shock for the Legion and that it can be difficult to act swiftly and clearly at such a time. In addition, we have not brought up the preceding suggestions assuming they are not already being considered by the Legion. We bring them up in order to highlight their grave importance.
Please be assured of our prayerful support as you lead the Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi during this difficult time. We entrust you in particular to St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus Christ. We ask the intercession of Our Lady to bring comfort to your members and to intercede for all of us in the Church, so that we may better bring about Christ's kingdom of love on earth.
Your brothers and sisters in Christ,
Sign this petition!