ROME, FEB. 7, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of a letter from Legionary of Christ Father Thomas Berg, executive director of the Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person, in response to news released this week regarding the congregation’s founder, the late Father Marcial Maciel.
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Last Thursday evening I was informed that, after an internal investigation of the charges lodged against him, it had been discovered that my religious congregation’s founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado fathered a child, who is now in her early 20s. Fr. Maciel founded the Legion in 1941. He died on January 30, 2008. On May 19, 2006, the Vatican released a communiqué requiring him to retire to a private life of penitence and prayer in light of numerous allegations brought before the Holy See, including accusations of sexual abuse of some of the first members of the congregation. At that time the Legion began its own internal investigation.
Given the near impossibility of ascertaining what happened over so many years (the earliest accusations would have been dated to the 1950’s), and because I am not privy to the findings of any of these investigations, I do not know which of those earlier accusations might be true. Sadly, however, it seems evident that some of them must indeed be true.
In shock, sorrow, and with a humbled spirit, I want to express my deepest sorrow for anyone who, in any way, has been hurt by the moral failings of Fr. Maciel. Of my readers, I ask your prayers for each of them. They count not only on my prayers, but also on the personal acts of reparation that I intend to do to implore for each of them the grace, healing, and comfort that only God can give. I am so sorry for each of them, and for the scandal this has caused to the entire Church.
For the members of my religious family, the Legionaries of Christ, I humbly ask for your prayers as we discern the road ahead and strive, each in our way and apostolic work, to continue to serve Christ and his Church.