The Vatican has just announced that the Pope has appointed an envoy to take over and reform the Legionaries of Christ, the conservative order that has been discredited by revelations that its founder, Father Maciel, sexually abused boys and fathered at least one child.
I came across Maciel’s name when I was researching for Double Cross: The Code of the Catholic Church. Indeed some of Maciel’s “activities” are mentioned in the book.
The following is an excerpt from my diary, May 2007 during my stay in Rome:
At the Piazza delle Cinque Lune, just in front of the Opus Dei university, I approached what at first I thought were two Jesuits; it turned out that they weren’t Jesuits. They were members of The Legionaries of Christ; training to become priests; one was Mexican and the other Brazilian. They were 33 years old, “Just like Jesus”, the Brazilian said. “Try not to die at 33”, I replied. “Yes, there is so much more to do”, was his response.
Wasn’t there some kind of a problem with their founder, Father Maciel, sometime ago, I asked? Surprised that I had heard about it, they responded that it was all untrue. They know, they knew Maciel personally and had lived with him in the same house and "no way could he have done any of the things which are said about him… it is people who object to the Order that he founded who are behind all this.”
I wanted more and suggested we go for a coffee. The Brazilian who did most of the talking told me that they had to return to their house, adding that he would “pray for me”. He gave me his phone number but when I rang he said that he was unable to meet me.