The corruption in the Catholic church runs deep
And it goes way back. Check out this story in the LA Times by Tracy Wilkinson, which begins:
He hobnobbed with Mexico’s rich and famous, cut lucrative real estate deals and was rumored to travel on occasion with a briefcase full of cash. He fathered at least one child, molested seminarians and boys and is said to have boasted that he had the pope’s permission to get massages from young nuns.
And all the while the conservative priest was building one of the most influential organizations in the Roman Catholic Church.
Two years after the death of the Rev. Marcial Maciel, a Mexico native, scandals continue to unfold: Just the other day in Mexico City, two brothers came forward, claiming tearfully that not only was Maciel their father, he had also sexually abused them.
Buffeted by the string of revelations, Maciel’s powerful Legion of Christ is fighting for its survival in Rome, the headquarters of the church. But here in Mexico, where the Legion has long-standing ties with the ruling class and an expansive network of elite schools, the organization remains strong.
Rather than the desertions that some branches of the Legion have experienced in the United States and elsewhere, student enrollment in Legionary schools in Mexico grew by 6% to 8% last year, spokesman Javier Bravo said.
The order’s assets are estimated by some to be worth $20 billion.
"Obviously there has been a lot of suffering and surprise from what we have learned about the founder," Bravo said. "Obviously Father Maciel was a great part of our founding period. But he will have to be reconsidered as an instrument rather than a model."
A few days after Bravo spoke to The Times, the Legionaries issued their most comprehensive apology to date for Maciel’s "reprehensible" behavior. "Though it causes us consternation," the statement says, "we have to say that these acts did take place."
As the Catholic Church is rocked by scandals about abusive priests and the failure of its hierarchy to confront them, Maciel in many ways embodies the insidiousness of the problem.
Maciel was dogged for years by allegations that he sexually molested young men studying to be priests, had affairs with women and was a drug addict. He evaded sanction thanks in large part to the privileged status granted him by the late Pope John Paul II. Only in 2006 did John Paul’s successor, Benedict XVI, discipline Maciel by ordering him to stop functioning as a priest; by then, Maciel was 85 [and, presumably, was no longer bringing in so much money and so many recruits — the church’s main priority, from all evidence – LG].
Maciel was popular at the Vatican because the Legion was one of the fastest growing orders in the Catholic Church, able to produce wealth and recruit priests at a time of declining memberships and severe shortages in the clergy — and because it espoused the conservative brand of Catholicism that recent popes have favored.
Today the Legionaries, as they are known, operate in nearly 40 countries with 800 priests, 2,600 seminarians and a lay branch called Regnum Christi ("Christ’s Kingdom") that has more than 75,000 members.
Though blessed by John Paul, the Legion had detractors the world over who, quite apart from the abuse allegations, criticized the secretive group’s cult-like practices. Seminarians were cut off from their families, their mail routinely intercepted; barred from criticizing Maciel and instructed to report anyone who did; and made to adhere to a military-style discipline. A cult of personality developed around Maciel, revered as a hero destined for sainthood.
In Mexico, the key to Maciel’s success was his ability to …
Continue reading. I fear the overriding priorities of the Catholic church are mainly to protect its reputation and its officials and to gather money and influence.