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Legionaries of Christ reorganize, issue apology for actions of its founder

The Catholic religious order the Legionaries of Christ (LC), issued a contrite formal apology today for the actions of its founder, Father Marciel Maciel, who was discovered to have led a double life, preaching and teaching the Gospel as head of one of the Church's most publicly faithful religious institutes while engaging in numerous sexual affairs and in the sexual abuse of minors. The Legionaries elected a new General Director, Father Eduardo Robles Gil, and a new Vicar General, Father Juan José Arrieta, Catholic News Agency has reported.

These two young priests are members of the religious order the Legionaries of Christ (LC), which formally apologized on Tuesday for the sinful and immoral actions of its founder, Father Marciel Maciel
These two young priests are members of the religious order the Legionaries of Christ (LC), which formally apologized on Tuesday for the sinful and immoral actions of its founder, Father Marciel MacielPhoto by Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Father Eduardo said that the Order's General Chapter marks "an end and a new beginning" in a press release today. “We can’t erase the past, we have to learn the lessons, mourn what occurred, trust in God’s mercy and, like St. Paul, run forward in pursuit of the goal of reaching Christ.”

“We ponder the magnitude of the evil and scandal caused, we realize that we are under the merciful gaze of God who, with his providence, continues to guide our steps,” Father Eduardo said. “many victims and other affected persons have waited so long in vain for an apology and an act of reconciliation on the part of Fr. Maciel. Today, we would like to issue that apology as we express our solidarity with these persons.”

“A religious congregation and its essential features do not have their origin in the person of the founder. They are a gift of God that the Church accepts and approves and that afterwards live in the institute and in its members,” stated Father Eduardo.

“We acknowledge with sadness the initial incapability of believing the testimonies of the persons who had been victims of Fr. Maciel, the long institutional silence and, later on, the hesitations and errors of judgment when setting out to inform the members of the congregation and others. We apologize for these shortcomings, which have increased the suffering and confusion of many,” the Legion said in its press release, “To all of our brothers, religious and priests, who during this period have left the Congregation, we want to express our sadness that we no longer have you among us. We sincerely apologize for the times we have not listened to you or been there for you in the spirit of the Gospel. We would like to maintain your friendship and fraternal dialogue.”

The Legionaries of Christ, sometimes also known simply as the Legion of Christ, were ordered by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to completely reorganize after the sins of Father Maciel, the founder who was sometimes said to have ruled the religious institute with an iron hand, were discovered. Both the Pontiff Emeritus and Pope Francis have taken great interest in insuring that the religious order, whose many members have done valuable missionary work around the world, is fully and completely reformed.