Sanctioned founder of Legion of Christ dies

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.

1148030877_g_0.jpgThe Legion has a strong presence in Westchester. It has plans to build a liberal arts university in Thornwood and a seminary in New Castle.

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.

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.