The Legionaries of Christ have elected a new leader, and issued a statement apologizing to the victims of the late Father Marcial Maciel and acknowledging that the order was guilty of “excessive exaltation” of its founder.
Father Eduardo Robles Gil, a Mexican priest, was elected director
general of the Legionaries by the general chapter of the order, meeting
in Rome. His election was confirmed by Archbishop José Rodriguez
Carballo, the secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for Religious.
In a statement released on February 6 along with the announcement of the
order’s new leadership, the Legionaries addressed the difficulties that
the order has experienced since the revelations that Father Maciel had
led a double life.
The statement says that “we hope to be able to redeem
our painful history and overcome with good the consequences of evil.”
The Legionaries’ statement acknowledges the damage that Father Maciel
did, and expresses “our the arbitrary use of his authority and of
material goods, the indiscriminate consumption of addictive medicines
and the act of presenting writings published by third parties as his
The group says that the behavior of the founder, who maintained an
appearance of piety while engaging in grossly immoral behavior, was
The statement also acknowledges that other members of the Legion
defended their leader for too long in the face of mounting evidence. As a
group, the statement says, the order “gave undue, universal value of
Father Maciel’s directives.”
The new leadership apologizes to the
founder’s victims, saying: “We are grieved that many victims and other
affected persons have waited so long in vain for an apology and an act
of reconciliation on the part of Father Maciel.”
However, despite the perfidy of the founder, the Legionaries insist that
their order, which was modeled on Father Maciel’s orders and guidance,
can recover from the damage.
Rejecting suggestions that the Legionaries
should be disbanded, the statement says that “a religious congregation
and its essential features do not have their origin in the person of the
founder; they are a gift of God that the Church accepts and approves
and that afterwards live in the institute and in its members.”
Father Robles, the new director general, echoed that sentiment in his
own personal statement.
“We can’t erase the past,” he said. “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.”
Father Robles has served various positions in the leadership of the
Legionaries in Spain, Brazil, Chile, and his native Mexico. In 2011 he
was appointed by Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, the Pope’s personal
representative, to head a committee reaching out to the victims of
In announcing their new leadership, the Legionaries said that a thorough
investigation had been done of the order’s past leadership, and the
degree to which other priests had been complicit with Father Maciel.
statement said that these investigations have now been concluded.