A 61 year-old Mexican Legionary of Christ who has been working with abuse victims of the Legion’s late founder has been elected to head the religious congregation.
Fr. Eduardo Robles Gil LC was voted general director of the Legionaries of Christ on Jan. 20th at the congregation’s extraordinary general chapter currently taking place in Rome. He takes over from Fr. Silvester Heereman LC who becomes one of the Legion’s general councillors.
The election was confirmed Feb. 6 by the Archbishop José Rodríguez Carballo, O.F.M., secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
The Legionaries of Christ says Fr. Eduardo Robles Gil will bring “a wide range of spiritual and apostolic experience” to his new role, having exercised his ministry principally in Spain, Brazil, Chile and Mexico and served as a director of several schools in Brazil.
The Mexican priest has been a superior of Legionary communities in Brazil and Chile, as well as a territorial administrator for two years in Mexico and a section director of Regnum Christi. He helped found the Legion and Regnum Christi’s presence in Brazil in the 1980s.
In 2011, he was named to the Outreach Commission created by Cardinal Velasio De Paolis to work with the abuse victims of Fr. Marcial Maciel. He began to serve as a major superior in the Legion in August, 2013, when he assumed the post of Territorial Director of Mexico.
In a Feb. 6 statement, Fr. Robles Gil said he hoped his election and the results of the general chapter marked “a new beginning” for the Legionaries of Christ, but that it is first “necessary to put the challenges of the past in their place.”
The Congregation was thrown into turmoil in the late 2000s after the extent of the corruption and sexual abuse of its revered founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel, came to light. The religious congregation has also had to deal with historical cases of sexual abuse, both by Legionary priests and lay members, as well as trenchant criticisms of the way the Legion has been run.
“We can’t erase the past,” Fr. Robles Gil said in the statement. “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.”
Born in Mexico City on Sept.18, 1952, Eduardo Robles Gil received a degree in industrial engineering before becoming a member of Regnum Christi in 1975. He joined the Legion of Christ in 1977, made his perpetual profession in Rome in 1981, and was ordained a priest on August 20, 1983. He holds a licentiate in philosophy from the Gregorian University.
Along with his election, the Vicar General, Fr. Juan José Arrieta, LC, and one of the general councillors, Fr. Juan Sabadell, LC, were named by the Holy See. Two more general councillors, Fr. Sylvester Heereman, LC, and Fr. Jesús Villagrasa, LC, were elected by the chapter members. Fr. José Gerardo Cárdenas, LC, has been elected General Administrator. Fr. Clemens Gutberlet, LC, has been elected General Procurator.