VATICAN CITY -- The disgraced Legion of Christ religious order needs to rethink its identity before going forward with its internal reform, the papal envoy in charge of the group's overhaul told priests and lay members in a letter published Wednesday.
Cardinal Velasio De Paolis was appointed in 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI to oversee the order's reform after revelations that its founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel, had lived a double life, abusing children and fathering a son.
Macial had enjoyed iconic status in the Legion, with strong suspicions that its leaders had been at least partly aware of his actions.
De Paolis writes that the troubled groups' various branches, which include priests, religious and laypeople, need "a common platform" to "regulate reciprocal relations ... according to the identity proper to each group."
This "joint reflection on the identity and mission" of the order, said Fr. Andreas Schoeggl, a Legion spokesman, needs to precede the final revision of the order's internal rules, which has been ongoing for the last two years and was the main goal of the pope's taking over of the order.