The Associated Press (among others) reports that the Legion of Christ “admits” that its most public moralizer fathered a child, in explicit violation of the order’s founding vows, “years ago” (emphasis mine):
VATICAN CITY — The Legion of Christ religious order, still reeling from revelations that its late founder was a pedophile, admitted Wednesday that it knew that its most famous priest had fathered a child years ago yet didn’t remove him from teaching morality to seminarians or speaking publicly about ethics.
In a statement, the Legion said it was sorry it hadn’t acted “earlier and more firmly” to remove the Rev. Thomas Williams from his very public ministry as a spokesman, author and high-profile television personality. It said it took responsibility for the lapse, but didn’t admit when Williams’ superiors knew of the existence of his child.
So the beat goes on. This story comes just days after the AP reported widespread abuse allegations against the same order (emphasis mine):
The investigations mark the first known Vatican action against Legion priests for alleged sexual assault following the scandal of the Legion’s founder, who was long held up as a model by the Vatican despite credible accusations — later proven — that he raped and molested his seminarians.
The Legion, which is now under Vatican receivership, has insisted that the crimes of its late founder, the Rev. Marciel Maciel, were his alone.
But the Vatican investigation of other Legion priests indicates that the same culture of secrecy that Maciel created within the order to cover his crimes enabled other priests to abuse children — just as abusive clergy of other religious orders and dioceses have done around the world.
As the trial against the now-disgraced John Edwards plays out, I wonder whether our right wing is willing to hold the Vatican to the same standards it applies to John Edwards (and Bill Clinton).
This Vatican still imposes today the same “culture of secrecy” that this cult was famous for. The pervasive hypocrisy is striking, even after being so evident for so many years. The evidence of institutional complicity in covering up and enabling abusive and predatory sexual behavior among priests is overwhelming. In this case, not just “priests” but the most influential leaders of this powerful Catholic cult.
I am appalled that this institution (explicitly as opposed to its adherents) has any significant influence on the governance of America. These scandals reveal the ugly truth of the institution that the GOP so eagerly panders to.