Monday, June 21, 2010

Maciel's Son Files Suit Against Legionaries of Christ, Alleges Sexual Abuse by His Father Began When He Was 10 Years Old

 In discussing the viciously homophobic essay by Michael Pakaluk that the Boston archdiocesan newspaper The Pilot recently published, defending the right of Catholic schools to turn away children of gay parents, I noted that Pakaluk teaches at a Virginia institute affiliated with the Legionaries of Christ.

As I noted this, I also indicated that among the sordid revelations about the Legion's founder Marcial Maciel in the past year is that he raped some of his own children, children he fathered as a priest and head of the Legionaries of Christ.  This is a piece of information that has appeared in reports about Maciel in recent months, about which I hadn't blogged until I wrote about Pakaluk's essay.

In its ongoing series of articles about Maciel and the Legion, National Catholic Reporter has just published an article by Jason Berry, which makes extensive use of an interview Berry did in May with Maciel's son Raul Gonzalez.  Berry's article notes that Gonzalez intends to file suit against the Legionaries for damages, alleging that its leaders knew of Maciel's sexual abuse of his son and did nothing to prevent it.

Berry states,

A lawsuit scheduled to be filed today in Connecticut against the Legion of Christ alleges that the order facilitated Maciel's abuse of his son, adding a new chapter in a saga of deception and depravity, two years after the death of Maciel, who for decades wielded enormous influence in Vatican circles as a favorite of the late Pope John Paul II.

An update to the story notes that Gonzalez filed his suit today in New Haven, Connecticut.

I won't hash through the details of the story.  They're gruesome, and readers can find them in Berry's outstanding article.  At a time in which leading American necon Catholics were lionizing Maciel and the Vatican (including Pope John Paul II) was protecting him, Berry and Gerald Renner of the Hartford Courant were tenaciously and courageously pursuing the Maciel story and taking one hit after another from Maciel's many apologists and protectors.  Subsequent events and revelations about Maciel have richly vindicated both reporters, though Gerald Renner did not, unfortunately, live to witness the dramatic turnaround in the Maciel story.  

Berry and Renner (posthumously) deserve medals for their journalistic integrity in pursuing the Maciel story.  They have also done the Catholic church a tremendous service in exposing this filth at the heart of the church, though I suspect that many church officials and mainstream journalists who go to bat for them will continue to malign journalists as enemies of the church for some time to come--rather than admitting that the cover-up of stories like the Maciel story has harmed the church far more than the truth, as exposed by good journalism, could ever do.

Among influential neocon American Catholics who defended Maciel to the bitter end: George Weigel, Mary Ann Glendon, William J. Bennett, "Bully Bill" Donohue, Richard John Neuhaus, Deal Hudson, and William Bennett.  Of these, Weigel has admitted he was wrong, though he has never apologized for his defense of Maciel.

A list of leading luminaries of the neocon wing of American Catholics, on whom the U.S. bishops still disproportionately rely for advice on matters political and religious . . . .  And at the same time, a hall of shame of American Catholicism at the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st century . . . . 

The graphic for this posting accompanies Berry's article cited above.  A caption for the picture states that this is believed to be a photograph of Maciel's son Raul Gonzalez with John Paul II.  Maciel took Raul to the Vatican in 1989, where he met the pope.  This was two years after Maciel first attempted to abuse his son sexually when Raul Gonzalez was 7 years old.