The Legionaries of Christ, a conservative Roman Catholic order that once had absolute and high-level Vatican support, has been disgraced by revelations its charismatic Mexican founder led a double life that included abusing young boys and fathering children. Now it faces the prospect of a second serious setback as the wealthy donors who helped build it into an influential movement in recent decades consider whether to go on contributing to such a shamed organization.
Combined with damning findings from a Vatican probe last month, the future of the order is in doubt. (Photo: Pope John Paul II (R) and Father Marcial Maciel at the Vatican, November 30, 2004/Tony Gentile)
Osvaldo Moreno, a spokesman for the Legion, said it was too soon to say if donations were dropping off and no significant change had been detected. But he admitted the global media attention on the seedy details of founder Father Marcial Maciel‘s sexual escapades was not helping.
“There will be a significant reduction (in money raised) and competitors like the Opus Dei will benefit,” Fernando M. Gonzalez, who has written books on Maciel and is one of the leading scholars on the Legion, told Reuters.