The 87-year-old founder of the Legionaries of Christ, who was accused of sex abuse and gently sanctioned by the Vatican in 2006, has died.
The Rev. Marcial Maciel founded the Legion, a Catholic order generally regarded as especially conservative, in 1941 in Mexico.
The order has grown amazingly fast. It now has a presence in 40 countries and has gotten a lot of attention for attracting vocations at a time when older orders are hurting for priests.
More than a decade ago, journalists made public accusations from nine former seminarians that Maciel had abused them decades before. The accusations were denied by Maciel and the Legion.
Pope John Paul II was known to a great fan of the Legion (that’s Maciel with him). But in May 2006, after Pope Benedict XVI had taken over, the Vatican announced that Maciel would stop celebrating Mass in public and that he would live out a “reserved life of prayer and penance, renouncing every public ministry.”
The Legion announced today that Maciel died yesterday in the U.S. of natural causes.