A disgraced Catholic religious order whose late founder lived a double life as a paedophile, womanizer and drug addict officially denounced him on Thursday and apologized to his "many victims".
Legionaries of Christ, which former members said was run like a cult
rooted in secrecy, accused Father Marcial Maciel of "reprehensible and
objectively immoral behavior" as head of the order from 1941 until
former Pope Benedict removed him in 2006.
Once a darling of the
Vatican because it attracted many Catholics to religious vocations and
made sizeable financial donations to the Church, the order has been in
Vatican receivership since 2010 and came close to being disbanded.
apology, issued by delegates from around the world meeting in Rome to
set a new direction for the order, came after a United Nations
committee singled it out in a scathing report accusing the Church of
ignoring child abuse by priests.
The statement denounced "the
magnitude of the evil and scandal caused" by Maciel, who died in 2008,
and said the conservative order was now ready to turn a page.
meeting, which began on January 8 and is due to end in late February,
elected Father Eduardo Robles Gil as the order's new leader. Like
Maciel, the 61-year-old hails from Mexico.
"We want to express
our deep sorrow for the abuse of minor seminarians, the immoral acts
with men and women who were adults, the arbitrary use of his authority
and of material goods ..." the order said.