Maciel, serial abuser: Let the apologies begin

The publisher of the Legionaries of Christ-backed National Catholic Register, Father Owen Kearns, has finally apologized to the victims of the Legion's founder, Father Marcel Maciel, a pathological liar and abuser who, as Jason Berry has reported for the National Catholic Reporter, bribed his way through the Vatican to gain favors for the Legion and its lay affiliate Regnum Christi. Why it took Kearns so long to apologize to victims is unclear, though Kearns says in the statement he as been ready to do so for some time.

It remains to be seen whether other high-profile defenders of Maciel will issue their own apologies, notably papal biographer and commentator George Weigel and Mary Ann Glendon, the former ambassador to the Holy See. The late Father Richard John Neuhaus is beyond apology, though his journal First Things offers this defense in his case.

The Maciel case is a perfect example of seeing only what one wants to see, and one reason why victims of child sexual abuse are rarely believed. Who could imagine that someone so "holy" could ever be guilty of such crimes?

Maciel's victims, including his own biological children, continue to suffer, and the fact that the Legion of Christ still exists is a scandal. It was created completely in immorality through a web of deception and abuse woven by a man whose behavior can only be described as sociopathic. The order purchased its influence with the kind of bribery that would make the characters of the Godfather blush. And through its many arms, including Regnum Christi and the National Catholic Register, it has sown nothing but discord in the Body of Christ.

There is only one remedy for this corruption, and that is to eliminate it. The Legion of Christ must be suppressed, along with Regnum Christi. Its members must be helped to discern new communities in which to live out their vocations, and the order's billions of dollars in assets and institutions must be investigated and disposed of according to church law.

Furthermore, the shady corruption revealed by Jason Berry must also be investigated and its perpetrators dealt with, both those who offered the money and those who accepted it. Only be shining a light on this or any corruption that has exposed the innocent to danger can the church ever emerge from this tragedy.

About the author

Bryan Cones

Bryan Cones is a writer living in Chicago.