Catholic News Agency
February 18, 2020
By Jonah McKeown
Milan, Italy – Evidence to be presented in an upcoming criminal trial suggests an elaborate cover-up of sexual abuse allegations against a former priest of the Legionaries of Christ whom an Italian court has convicted of sexual abuse of a minor.
The case, set to begin in March, names four Legion priests and a Legion lawyer who are accused of attempting to obstruct justice and extort the family of a sex abuse victim, according to reporting by the Associated Press.
The names of the priests and lawyer in question have not been released, and the Legion did not respond to CNA’s request for comment.
The Legion of Christ, a religious congregation consisting of fewer than 1,000 priests worldwide, was long the subject of critical reports and rumors before it was rocked by Vatican acknowledgment that its charismatic founder, Father Marcial Maciel, lived a double life, sexually abused seminarians, and fathered children. Maciel abused at least 60 minors.
In 2006 the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, with the approval of Benedict XVI, removed Maciel from public ministry and ordered him to spend the rest of his life in prayer and penance. The congregation decided not to subject him to a canonical process because of his advanced age, and he died in 2008.
Benedict XVI appointed Cardinal Valasio De Paolis, a highly respected canon lawyer, to lead the religious order in 2010.
De Paolis, who died in 2017, has faced criticism for leaving much of the leadership of the congregation from Maciel’s time in place and failing to investigate claims of cover-up.
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