Legion Revamps Girls’ School Program After Abuses
The Legion’s lay branch, Regnum Christi, posted a statement on its website Thursday outlining the changes after The Associated Press reported that 77 alumni had written to the Vatican calling for the program in the U.S., Mexico and Spain to be closed because of the harm done to them in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Girls in the program now have more contact with their families, more exposure to the “realities of the world,” more freedom from rigorous work schedules and, for the first time, assistance in getting into college, the statement said. Many of these changes began some time ago, but some are more recent.
The problems in the program are the latest blow to the troubled, cult-like Legion, which was discredited in 2009 when it revealed that its founder was a pedophile and drug addict who fathered three children. The Legion suffered subsequent credibility problems following its recent admission that its most famous priest had fathered a child and the current Legion superior covered it up for years.
The Legion saga represents one of the greatest scandals of the 20th century Catholic Church since its late founder, the Rev. Marcial Maciel, had been held up as a living saint by his followers and a model of holiness by Pope John Paul II because of his ability to recruit men and money to the priesthood, even though the Vatican knew for decades he had sexually abused his seminarians.
Pope Benedict XVI took over the Mexico-based order in 2010 and appointed an envoy to reform the Legion and Regnum Christi. But the reform hasn’t progressed smoothly, with defections from disillusioned members and criticism that some superiors remain resistant to change.