Matt C. Abbott
Legionaries of Christ scandal continues
By Matt C. Abbott
August 13, 2009

Several years ago, at a benefit dinner for a school affiliated with the Legionaries of Christ, I had the pleasure of sitting next to Patrick Madrid, one of my favorite Catholic apologists and an all-around good guy, whom I will quote below.

Not too long after said fundraiser, I went from being a Legionaries supporter (although I did have a few misgivings) to being a Legionaries critic.

And now I feel vindicated. In fact, I've felt that way for the last year or so.

On his blog, Mr. Madrid writes:

    The left-leaning Mexican daily newspaper, La Jornada, is reporting an explosive new set of paternity allegations against the late Father Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ.

    Earlier this year, the religious order was rocked to its foundations by revelations of its founder's fraudulent double life (see my February 3, 2009 commentary on this). New allegations surfaced today in a La Jornada article, which I have translated from the original Spanish and excerpted below:

      Three More Children of Marcial Maciel Claim Inheritance Rights

      Mexican lawyer José Bonilla Sada has made it known that three [additional] children, born in Mexico, will contest the Legionaries of Christ [claiming] that they should recognize their existence and their rights as heirs to the goods of the religious order's founder.

      The litigant, who has as his assistant one Joaquín Aguilar — a victim of sexual abuse committed by ex-priest Nicholas Aguilar — said that he is confident that there is sufficient proof to demonstrate that even the late Pope John Paul II, along with the Legion, knew of the existence of Maciel's three other children, now adults, who were legally recognized by their father but whose names will be kept confidential.

      Some months ago, the order founded by the late priest, [who was] accused of sexual abuse against minors, admitted the existence of one of his daughters. Her name, according to Bonilla's account on his blog, is Norma Hilda. She lives in Madrid, Spain, where, along with her mother of the same name, she obtained a non-work related residence visa.

      Originally from Guerrero [Mexico], she is approximately 23 years old and maintains a comfortable lifestyle level, such that she does not have to work; she lives in a luxury apartment building and also has other income [rents] from the same building in which she lives. They were acquired by Marcial Maciel with money from benefactors of the congregation.

      It was precisely because of this blog that the late priest's three children contacted José Bonilla to represent them; after which they furnished him with a series of documents that verify their relationship to Maciel: photographs showing that they had met with John Paul II, all kinds of letters, and recordings of high-level leaders in the Legion of Christ discussing this issue.

      The litigant maintains that the calligraphic [i.e., handwriting] evidence is sufficient to demonstrate that the letters were written by Maciel's own hand, and that his children can be subjected to DNA testing to demonstrate their blood relationship [with him].

      At present, the lawyer is studying [the evidence] and composing a civil law suit, in which it would be determined that his clients have inheritance rights, although he admits that before coming to that point he hopes to reach a settlement with the Legion of Christ.

      'I suppose,' said Bonilla, 'that he [Maciel] did leave them money. Our team is working on this, and some informants have have told us that it is a significant amount. One must remember that the Legion surrounded and was for [i.e. at the disposal of] the founder; practically speaking, everything was his.

      He indicated that the deceased [priest's] children seek their existence be acknowledged and, eventually, they are contemplating making known [publicly] the life they had at their father's side, in the sense of how it developed, which is to say, what he counseled them, what he taught them, and that they have rights of inheritance....

Another all-around good guy is canonist and author Pete Vere, who writes on the same subject on the blog Catholic Light (slightly edited):

    Both of Our Lord's sayings come to mind as I ponder recent revelations concerning Father Maciel. What's damaging to the Legion is not the revelations themselves. Reasonable people, Catholic or not, have long ago concluded Father Maciel was a fraud and a scoundrel. So what's damaging to the Legion is that they were not more forthcoming with the truth about their founder, or with an apology to his numerous victims.

    In a word, the scandal here is the cover-up. The attempted cover-up, for so many years, is why the Legion appears so helpless as the facts unfold.

    Two autumns ago, while camouflaged in the Northern Ontario wilderness waiting for a bear to sniff out day-old doughnuts at the foot of the tree-stand, I read a report of a true exorcism. It had taken place around the turn of the 20th Century. I believe the report was written by a priest who played a role in the exorcism.

    The possessed was like most LC/RC members I have met during my lifetime. She was a devout Catholic, she prayed her rosary regularly, and she had a strong desire to receive the sacraments and grow in holiness. But something stood in the way of her spiritual growth.

    That something was a devil (ironically, when pushed by the priest to name himself, I believe the devil claimed to be the Legion who Christ confronted in the Gospels) along with the condemned soul of the possessed's father. The latter was an immoral scoundrel in life, who had attempted to rape his own daughter. When she rebuffed his incestuous advances, he cursed her to the devil. And upon his death he joined the devil in his daughter's possession. Thus even in death the father continued to impede his daughter's relationship with Christ.

    Why do I mention this? Besides the obvious metaphor, another important bit of information was revealed during the actual exorcism. The exorcist began casting out devil and demon, but they entrenched themselves even more strongly in the woman's body. They then made it known that they wouldn't leave without a fight. Thus they attempted to sow discord among the exorcist and his human assistants by blurting out their past sins.

    Shocked, one of the assistants asked the devil why he hadn't mentioned a major sin in the assistant's life. Apparently the sin was known in the community. The devil resisted answering the question, if I recall correctly, until the exorcist ordered him to do so in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

    'Because you have confessed it before the priest and received absolution,' the devil said. 'Those sins are cut off to me.'

    In other words, we may bear temporal consequences for our sins even after confessing them, but they are cut off to the devil. The evil one can only hold power over us through that evil in our lives that remains unconfessed before God. Thus Christ really is the truth, and truth really will set you free.

    Now analogies can only carry so far, and I would be a fool to claim that every member of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi is possessed by the devil. Heck, it would be just as foolish for me to claim the majority (or even a large minority) are possessed. However, although far from an expert in demonology and exorcism, I believe the Legion of Christ as an entity may be haunted by a demon. This demon may be spiritual, or it may be psychological, or perhaps it is both. I'm not an expert, I don't know.

    But this demon is Father Maciel. As long as the truth of his sins remains hidden, the devil will continue to hold a certain power over the Legion and Regnum Christi, working the evil of Father Maciel's sins in the shadows, and impeding the spiritual growth of the Father Maciel's spiritual children.

    There is but one means to expel this demon: Embrace the truth and make it known. Renounce Father Maciel, his sins, and his influence over the movement. (And part of this process must include an apology to Father Maciel's victims, along with offers of restitution.) Embrace the truth, embrace Christ who is the truth, and use the truth to bring freedom to countless members of LC/RC seeking sincerely to serve Christ.

Finally, Father James Farfaglia, a priest of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas (and an ex-Legionary), whom I've quoted at length in several past columns, writes on his blog (slightly edited):

    Today [August 12] the Internet was buzzing with new allegations regarding the scandalous life of Father Marcial Maciel, LC, founder of the Legionaries of Christ. Much of what was reported has been known by many (from confidential sources) for many months.

    I think it is essential that Father Alvaro Corcuerra, LC, the present general superior of the Legionaries of Christ, make a full disclosure regarding the following questions that many Legionaries, ex-Legionaries, benefactors and parents of Legionary seminarians have been asking for a long time.

    The following is a list of honest questions. These are not accusations or affirmations. These are only questions. If the Legionaries of Christ are to gain any credibility as a Catholic congregation of priests, Father Alvaro Corcuerra needs to answer these questions with total honesty and sincerity. The reform of the congregation lies in his hands.

    Here are the questions:

    1. Why was Father Maciel expelled from the seminary of his uncle, Bishop Rafael Guizar y Valencia? Did his uncle find out that Father Maciel was involved in a homosexual ring of seminarians? Did this discovery cause his uncle to have a heart attack and die suddenly?

    2. Why was Father Maciel suddenly expelled from the Jesuit seminary of Montezuma? Did his superiors discover that he was involved in a homosexual ring of seminarians?

    3. Was Father Maciel guilty of having sexual relations with his first principle benefactress, Talita Retes? Is this the reason why she supported him?

    4. Why is the Legion of Christ admitting to Father Maciel's double life regarding his lover and his daughter? Why are they not admitting that Father Maciel has been guilty of abusing numerous seminarians since the foundation of the Congregation? Another words, why is the daughter the main issue and the allegations of homosexual abuse not an issue?

    5. Is it true that the Vatican already has on file the proof that Father Maciel had numerous children, that he abused numerous seminarians, that he was a drug user and that he used money from his benefactors to support his children?

    6. Is it true that there was a cover up regarding the double life of Father Maciel? How many Legionary superiors knew about his proclivities and said nothing? How many Vatican officials knew about his 'lifestyle' and said nothing because they were receiving money and gifts to keep quiet? How many Mexican prelates knew about his double life?

    7. Was Father Maciel running a homosexual ring of priests and seminarians within his Congregation? Are some of these priests presently involved in active ministry within the Congregation?

    8. Did Father Maciel receive money from the Masons to fund his apostolic projects? Was Father Maciel involved in international Masonry? Are the Masons using Father Maciel's scandalous life to discredit the papacy of John Paul II?

I find it interesting that Father Maciel apparently was "bisexual." It could be that his reported abuse of seminarians had more to do with the abuse of power than with homosexuality per se. Then again, when one reaches an extremely high level of moral depravity, it probably is easy for that individual to engage in unfettered sexual activity with men, women and even children, considering his or her conscience is nearly, if not entirely, dead. Diabolical indeed.

© Matt C. Abbott


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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on HLN, MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 2019 ‘Unsolved’ podcast about the unsolved murder of Father Alfred Kunz, Alex Shuman's 'Smoke Screen: Fake Priest' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets. He’s mentioned in the 2020 Report on the Holy See's Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (1930 to 2017), which can be found on the Vatican's website. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome and appreciate thoughtful feedback. Insults will be ignored. Only in very select cases will I honor a request to have a telephone conversation about a topic in my column. Email is much preferred. God bless you and please keep me in your prayers!)


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