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Archbishop Edwin O’Brien of Baltimore has made public a stiff letter of concern about the activities of the Legion of Christ and its lay affiliate, Regnum Christi, setting out guidelines to be met for its continuing operation in the archdiocese. In the course of his letter he notes the grave charges of sexual abuse made against the founder of the Legion, Fr. Marcial Maciel, which led in May 2006 to the Holy See’s directing him to retire to a life of penitence and prayer. Fr. Maciel died in January of this year. Jason Berry, who has been reporting on priestly sex abuse for many years, is now bringing out a new documentary on Fr. Maciel and the Legion, “Vows of Silence.” Following the action by the Holy See, Fr. Neuhaus wrote this in the Aug-Sep installment of The Public Square: “I do not know all that the CDF and the Holy Father know and am not privy to the considerations that led to their decision. It is reasonable to believe that they concluded that Fr. Maciel did do something very seriously wrong. To censure publicly, toward the end of his life, the founder of a large and growing religious community is an extraordinary, perhaps unprecedented, measure in Catholic history. Moreover, because the only public and actionable charges against Fr. Maciel had to do with sexual abuse, the clear implication is that that was the reason for the censure. In view of the public knowledge of the charges, it is not plausible that he was censured for some other and unknown reason.” The Legion has promised to comply with the guidelines specified by Archbishop O’Brien.



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