I just finished Vows of Silence by Jason Berry and Gerald Renner – which I highly recommend. About 1/3 of the book concerns a mini-cult within the Catholic Church – the Legionaries of Christ, headed by Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado. Knowing a little something about Scientology, I couldn’t help but be reminded of L Ron Hubbard – Maciel told numerous demonstrable self-glorifying lies; was addicted to drugs; and is currently ending his life in hiding. Additionally, the book tells of creepy attempts (some successful) at infiltrating existing catholic school boards and taking over. Pedestrian Catholics generally reject the Legionaries, but often don’t realize just who they’re up against (this is similar to Scientology’s own attempts at infiltrating school systems with its ‘study tech‘ – most people never realize that study tech is a Scientology religious process that has absolutely no place in the school system).
Anyway, the major reason Maciel and the Legionaries he founded frequently find themselves the subject of news stories is because of 9 ex-Legionaries who stepped forward in the last decade with highly credible accounts of molestation at the hands of Maciel. Maciel’s victims instituted canon law proceedings against Maciel, which triggered an investigation by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF, a/k/a The Inquisition), then headed by Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI). Ratzinger sat on the investigation and did nothing – didn’t dismiss it – didn’t act on it – didn’t resolve it in any way whatsoever. The victims then attempted to reopen the investigation and the CDF said it would reconsider – that’s where, in early 2003, Vows of Silence leaves us.
Today, the NY Times closes the book on this particular drama by revealing that the CDF has cleared Maciel of the allegations. Which makes total sense, unfortunately – how could the CDF now find Maciel liable when Ratzinger buried this same investigation only a few years prior? It could not – the decision then would have to be ratified now so that the current pope doesn’t look bad in retrospect. And this is par for the course – this Vatican, like the last, is only interested in protecting the status quo and hammering its policy agenda down the world’s collective throat.
UPDATE: S.N.A.P. responds by slamming Ratzinger…
One cannot help but wonder if Ratzinger shrewdly manipulated Maciel’s victims as pawns in the papal succession struggle. For years, Ratzinger ignored and rebuffed these victims. Suddenly, as the papal election neared, he reversed course.
At the time, some speculated that Ratzinger re-opened the probe as a calculated move toward the center, an effort to moderate his extreme image, and attract votes for his papal bid.
Now that Ratzinger is ensconsed as head of the worldwide church, he coldly tosses these victims aside again. Now, those skeptics must feel vindicated.