A Machiavellian Misfire?

July/August 2005

We have noted that the National Catholic Register, controlled by the Legion of Christ, has not reported about the re-opening of the investigation by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) this past December into the pederasty case against Fr. Marcial Maciel, the Founder of the Legion.

As recently as April 23, the Legion issued a press release saying: "Recent media reports suggest the CDF is proceeding with an investigation of Father Maciel. Neither he nor the Legionaries of Christ has been contacted about any such inquiry…." Then on May 20, the Legion issued another press release saying: "The Holy See has recently informed the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ that at this time there is no canonical process underway regarding our Founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel, LC, nor will one be initiated."

This is puzzling. If the CDF didn't tell the Legion or Maciel it was investigating Maciel, then why would the Holy See tell the Legion that there would be no canonical process (i.e., a trial) against Maciel?

Indeed, the CDF has been investigating Maciel. If the investigation provides sufficient evidence, then there will be a trial ("a canonical process"). Significantly, it has been reported (as of this writing) that the investigation of Maciel has not been completed. So how could it be decided that a canonical trial will not be held if the investigation isn't finished? Something doesn't add up here.

This latter Legion press release was issued May 20 (Friday). On May 23 (Monday), Michael S. Rose addressed several questions to the Communications Director of the Legionaries of Christ in the U.S., Jay Dunlap, who replied on May 24 (Tuesday), saying: "1. The Holy See contacted the Legion of Christ with the good news that there is not now nor will there be a canonical process regarding accusations against Father Maciel. 2. The Holy See authorized the Legionaries to make a public statement in this regard, and said if sources wanted verification they could contact the Vatican Press Office. 3. Several major news agencies followed this process and accurately reported that the Holy See confirmed our statement. Catholic News Service and the New York Times were the first. 4. As far as any 'further information at this time,' it is not clear to me what that would mean. The Holy See, speaking clearly in one unified voice, told us and has repeatedly confirmed that there is not now nor will there be a canonical process."


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New Oxford Notes: July/August 2005

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