VATICAN CITY, APRIL 12, 2010 (Zenit.org).- It is “ridiculous” to state that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger covered up the wrongdoings of the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Marcial Maciel, as it was precisely the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith who promoted the canonical investigation against him, clarified the Holy See on Thursday.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, said this in response to an article in the weekly German news magazine Stern, which accused Benedict XVI of helping to stifle the accusations of sexual abuse that had been aimed at Maciel since the 1950s.
“It is paradoxical — and for informed persons ridiculous — to attribute to Cardinal Ratzinger responsibilities of concealment or of covering up of any sort,” asserted the Vatican spokesman in a statement.
“All informed persons know that it was Cardinal Ratzinger’s merit to promote the canonical investigation of accusations against Marcial Maciel, until establishing his culpability with certainty,” he added.
“The conclusion, with the imposition of withdrawal from all public activity, taking into account his age and conditions of health (in fact, Maciel died shortly after) and its publication in a well-known communiqué by the Holy See Press Office, were also merit of the line of consistent rigor of Cardinal Ratzinger, who at that time had become Pope.”
Maciel died in January 2008, and was buried in his native Cotija, Mexico. Since then, the Legionaries of Christ have slowly acknowledged details of their founder’s “double life” and actions that “weren’t appropriate for a Catholic priest.”
It was made public in February 2009 that Maciel had a longstanding relationship with at least one woman and had fathered at least one daughter.
Last December, it was widely reported that 80% of a book attributed to Maciel — “El salterio de mis días” (The Psalter of My Days) — was taken from the memoir of Spanish politician Luis Lucia Lucia, who died in 1943.
On March 25, the Legion acknowledged without detail the veracity of the sexual abuse allegations against its founder, and the existence of at least one other stable relationship with a woman, and two more sons.
After the news broke of Maciel’s double life, Benedict XVI initiated an apostolic visitation of the Legionaries of Christ, which concluded last month.