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New questions about Legionaries of Christ

A woman claiming to be the mother of Fr. Maciel's daughter speaks.


The report states that mother and daughter receive a generous monthly stipend from the Legion in exchange for their silence, citing Bonilla as a source.

Bonilla won a civil judgment against the Legion several years ago in a suit on behalf of his own child, who was sexually abused by a teacher at the Legion's elite Oxford School in Mexico City, according to Milenio.

As the Holy See presumably awaits the results of the Apostolic Visitation by the investigating prelates — including Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput and Bishop Ricardo Blazques of Balboa, Spain — a larger question concerns the church itself.

How long have Vatican officials known that Maciel had a child, or children? Father Alvaro Corcuero, the Legion director-general chosen by Maciel to succeed him when the founder stepped down in 2004, undoubtedly had access to the Legion's financial records. At what point did he advise Benedict of what he knew?

The decision by which Corcuero began disclosing that Maciel had "a double life" to Legionary members last February clearly was not his alone. The Vatican understandably wanted to put distance between Benedict and the Legionaries. In that sense, the bishops' investigation of the Legion is also providing cover for the pope.

The issue now is not just Maciel's sordid secret life but financial accountability. If the Legion gave material support to one or more children of Maciel, any number of benefactors he cultivated in establishing a religious order with a $650 million budget for schools and colleges in North America, South America and Europe were duped, if not defrauded in a legal sense.

The Legion's legendary fundraising operations drew heavily on videotapes in which Maciel appeared with Pope John Paul II. In one video, John Paul tells a large gathering from the balcony at St. Peter's, "You are all sons and daughters of Father Maciel." 

Jason Berry is coauthor of "Vows of Silence," a book about Maciel, and producer of a documentary about the 2006 Vatican prosecution.