By Jaime Septién
MEXICO CITY, FEB. 1, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The Mexican bishops offered their condolences to the Legionaries of Christ upon the death of the order’s founder. They particularly expressed closeness to two Legionary bishops whose service has benefited southern Mexico.
Father Marcial Maciel died Wednesday at age 87.
The Mexican episcopal conference directed a letter to Legionary of Christ Father Álvaro Corcuera Martínez del Río, the congregation’s general director. Father Maciel was a native son of Mexico, and many of the apostolic works of the Legion of Christ began here.
The note was signed by the episcopal conference’s president and secretary, Bishops Carlos Aguiar Retes and José Leopoldo González. They expressed their closeness “to all the members of the congregation of the Legion of Christ and the Regnum Christi movement, for the sad loss of their beloved father and founder.”
“In such a sorrowful circumstance, we unite ourselves to your grief, raising fervent prayers to the Lord so that he receives Father Maciel in his embrace. At the same time, we ask to you transmit to all the members of the congregation our sentiment of spiritual closeness and our recognition of their important work in building the kingdom of God.”
The final paragraph of the letter from the episcopal conference said, “In these moments of sorrow, but also of hope in a new life in Christ, we reiterate our solidarity with our brothers in the episcopate, Bishop Pedro Pablo Elizondo Cárdenas of the Prelature of Cancun-Chetumal, and Bishop Jorge Bernal Vargas, retired bishop of that prelature, and with those who today suffer because of Father Maciel’s departure to the house of the Father.”
In the 1970s, Pope Paul VI entrusted the Territorial Prelature of Chetumal in southern Mexico to the Legionaries of Christ. The prelature, renamed in 1996 to Cancun-Chetumal, is populated by a large number of Mayans, and includes popular tourist destinations such as Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
Marcial Maciel was born March 10, 1920, in Cotija de la Paz, Mexico. During his youth, he witnessed the religious persecution suffered in this country, including the bloodiest years from 1926 to 1929, experiences which marked his life.