National Catholic Reporter

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Accountability

Madoff and Maciel: Two of a Kind

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To watch interviews of victims of Bernard Madoff’s gargantuan Ponzi scheme, and then immediately switch to interviews of Legion of Christ priests, is to quickly lose track of which scoundrel is being discussed. The priests had just learned their founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado (1920-2008), had a longtime lover and fathered a daughter now in her 20s.

The hucksters Madoff and Maciel resemble each other in so many ways that they appear to be identical twins.

Madoff preyed upon those who shared his Jewish heritage, among others. Maciel preyed upon pious people in Mexico before he spread his scam to dozens of other countries and headquartered his scheme in Rome.

According to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Web site (http://www.sec.gov/investor/pubs/affinity.htm), the definition of an “affinity fraud” is this:

EDITORIAL: Of Legionnaries, Lefebvrites and the good sisters

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George Orwell, as is often the case, said it best. “To see what is front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.”

Case One: Confirmation that the founder of the Legion of Christ, Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, was not only a child molester and cultish leader of a church-within-a-church, but a scoundrel (he apparently also stole a lot of money) and a cad.

To merge or not to merge

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On one level, the story of the changing Catholic church in the United States is contained in the numbers: decreasing numbers of priests, nuns, parishes and even religious congregations. That cold reality began to dawn on the church as early as the 1970s, and it eventually surfaced a new word for the Catholic vocabulary: merger. Parishes merged; so did Catholic hospitals, elementary schools, high schools and religious orders.

Calls made for release of L.A. abuse papers

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COSTA MESA, Calif. -- William Lobdell sat in an outdoor café in Costa Mesa just days after it was revealed that a federal prosecutor was now taking his turn at investigating the sex-abuse scandal in the Los Angeles archdiocese.

Lobdell, a lean man in his late 40s with a shaved head, smiled an I-understand-this grin. He had covered the scandal for the Los Angeles Times and paid a price for it. His tale is told in his newly released Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America -- and Found Unexpected Peace (Collins, 2009).

L. A. sex-abuse investigation a federal case

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LOS ANGELES -- A recently impaneled federal grand jury is investigating how the Los Angeles archdiocese managed accusations that dozens of priests molested hundreds of teenagers and younger children over many years. The federal investigation, first reported by The Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times Jan. 29, threatens to ignite a new phase in the clergy sex-abuse scandal less than two years after the archdiocese agreed to pay $660 million to more than 500 victims of clergy sexual abuse.

Maciel admission raises questions for a hurting order

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As the last tattered shreds of public resistance inside the Legion of Christ gave way to overwhelming evidence that the order’s founder had led a deceptive, double life, questions regarding its future have taken a foothold.

Shocked members, supporters and church observers began asking questions. Some called for investigations to learn who in the order might have enabled Fr. Marcial Maciel to cover a part of his life, making indelibly making a story of deception central to the Legionaires history.
Other said that it would be wise to dissolve the Legion of Christ and start a new order from scratch.

At the center of the turmoil is the deceased Maciel, long accused of numerous acts of sex abuse but having gained focused scrutiny with the admissions Feb. 4 by Legion officials that he had had a mistress and fathered a daughter.

Maciel, viewed by some as a saint, by others as a cult figure, died last year at the age of 87. The Legion claims over 800 priests and 2,500 seminarians worldwide.

Legionaries of Christ founder said to father child

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A spokesperson for the Legionaries of Christ said Feb. 3 the order has recently reached the conclusion that its founder, a Mexican priest named Marcial Maciel Degollado who was close to the late Pope John Paul II, was guilty of conduct that is "surprising, difficult to understand, and inappropriate for a Catholic priest."

The spokesperson, Jim Fair, who works out of the Legionaries' U.S. headquarters in Connecticut, declined to offer any specifics in response to an NCR inquiry.

Speaking on background, however, a Legionary priest in Rome confirmed the order has learned that Maciel, who died in January 2008, apparently fathered a child out of wedlock.

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September 12-25, 2014

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