Superior in Catholic Legion marred in sexual abuse scandal steps aside
The superior general of the troubled Legion of Christ religious order, under the Roman Catholic Church, has stepped aside unexpectedly, saying he simply doesn’t have the energy to oversee the radical reform of the congregation ordered by the Vatican after their founder’s sexual abuse scandal.
The Rev. Alvaro Corcuera said in a letter obtained Thursday that his 38-year-old vicar general, the Rev. Sylvester Heereman, would govern the order until a planned general assembly in 2013 or 2014 to elect a new superior. Corcuera will retain his title, but no longer run the Legion.
The Legion has been in turmoil ever since it acknowledged in 2009 that its founder, the late Rev. Marcial Maciel, sexually abused his seminarians and fathered three children. The Vatican took it over in 2010 after a yearlong investigation determined that the Legion’s very culture had been infected by Maciel’s influence and needed to be “purified.”
It’s a painful decision that has brought suffering to everyone, but is believed necessary for the good of the Legion and Father Alvaro himself.
Corcuera worked closely with Maciel after being named superior in 2005 but has insisted he didn’t know of Maciel’s crimes. Nevertheless, Legion critics have long demanded his removal, saying the entire Legion leadership should have stepped aside as soon as the revelations of Maciel’s double life came out, and that no real reform can take place as long as Maciel’s hand-picked subordinates remain in positions of power.
Earlier this year, Corcuera admitted that he knew in 2005 that the Legion’s most prominent priest, the Rev. Thomas Williams, had fathered a child, yet he kept the news secret and allowed Williams to keep teaching and preaching about morality.
Williams admitted his paternity publicly in May after inquiries by The Associated Press and is no longer teaching. [More]