Southern Religion

[Updated] Vatican to investigate Legionaries

Legionaries of Christ

The Vatican has decided to end the foot-dragging of the Legionaries of Christ with its own investigation.

Announced in a letter by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. Posted on the order’s Web site, that letter said the pontiff had decided to intervene “so that with truth and transparency, in a climate of fraternal and constructive dialogue, you will overcome the present difficulties.”

The investigation is unusual and results from events preceding and following the February disclosure by Legionaries of Christ officials in Rome that the order’s founder, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, had fathered a child. Maciel had previously been credibly accused of sexually abusing young seminarians in the order. There are concerns about cult-like behavior, bolstered recently by publication of one of the order’s manuals. And there are concerns about financial irregularities.

The investigation is an apostolic visitation. CNS explains:

Apostolic visitation is a form of internal church investigation ordered by a pope and undertaken by his delegate or delegates. The pope sets the jurisdiction and powers of the visitation, which usually ends with the submission of a report to the Holy See.

As Cath News argued some time ago, Vatican intervention is required because “the current Mexican leadership of the Legionaries is not up to the challenge of dissociating the organisation from the sexual and financial wrongdoings of the founder.”

As we have suggested since February, Maciel’s history of predation and cult leadership style inevitably shaped the order’s culture. An outside investigation was required.


The letter announcing the visitation to the Legionaires of Christ is here, on the order’s web site.

March 31, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion | , , , | Comments Off on [Updated] Vatican to investigate Legionaries

Notre Dame/Obama uproar is a right-wing ploy

Uproar over President Obama’s upcoming commencement address at Notre Dame is, Gallup Poll data suggests, a right-wing organizing ploy.

Most Catholics don’t share the views of the angry Catholic bishops and right-wing activists who created and are sustaining this apparent confligration, as Gallup explains:

The argument of those who protest the extension of the invitation to Obama is that Catholics have a distinctly conservative position on these moral issues. That is certainly the case as far as official church doctrine is concerned, but not when it comes to average American Catholics. The new Gallup analysis, based on aggregated data from Gallup’s 2006-2008 Values and Beliefs surveys, indicates that Catholics in the United States today are actually more liberal than the non-Catholic population on a number of moral issues, and on others, Catholics have generally the same attitudes.

Frequency of church attendance is an almost unerring predictor of American political conservatism. Yet even Catholics who regularly attend church are more liberal than non-Catholics who go to church regularly:

Regular churchgoers who are Catholic are significantly more liberal than churchgoing non-Catholics on gambling, sex before marriage, homosexual relations, having a baby out of wedlock, and divorce. Committed Catholics are at least slightly more likely than devout non-Catholics to say that abortion and embryonic stem-cell research — the two key issues highlighted by those protesting Obama’s appearance at Notre Dame — are morally acceptable. Only on the death penalty are committed Catholics more conservative than regular churchgoers who are not Catholic.

moral acceptability by church attendance and affiliation

Lacking sufficient support among those for whom they speak, Bishops who in the name of being prophetic seek to call down fire on Notre Dame’s invitation to Obama, and right wing activists who seek to energize and add to the number of their followers, are both further dividing themselves from the majority of U.S. Catholics.

They can expect to see themselves less well-heeded after this conflict than before. The opposite of their intentions.

March 31, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Politics, Religion | , | Comments Off on Notre Dame/Obama uproar is a right-wing ploy