Pope resignation update: RI judge releases “Legion of Christ” docs

This is an update to our earlier post about Pope Benedict (former Cardinal Ratzinger) and his possible reasons for resigning from the papacy. For the details, click here; the short version is that as cardinal, Ratzinger oversaw the response of the Church to many sex scandals.

Among the worst of the scandals were those involving the highly charismatic, sexually prolific, and Vatican-favored Fr. Marcial Maciel and his powerful organization the “Legion of Christ.” Pope John Paul II was a huge Maciel fan, Maciel was a money machine for the Pope (more on that below) and sent lots of his takings to the Pope, and Ratzinger at the time was John Paul’s “enforcer” with regard to sex scandals.

A tricky combo. Ratzinger and his Vatican organization the CDF (formerly know as “the Inquisition” — seriously) oversaw the response to all of the child-sex scandals, including the ones involving Pope John Paul’s golden goose, Fr. Maciel and the Legion of Christ. Ratzinger, John Paul, and Maciel are knee-deep in each other’s history.

We know what the Vatican response to decades of scandal looked like from the outside — an obvious and massive worldwide cover-up of global criminal activity. To read one example of how the Church responded to just one set of criminal revelations, try this: “Catholic Church enslaved 30,000 Irish women as forced unpaid labor in Magdalene Laundries until 1996” — horrible stuff; truly the devil at work. Or consider the cushy retirement of Boston’s Cardinal Bernard Law, or former New York Cardinal Edward Egan’s retracted apology for the child-sex scandal (Egan now says the church didn’t do anything wrong.)

Vatican-City_640px-St_Peter's_Square,_Vatican_City_-_April_2007Now thanks to a woman in Rhode Island, we may get a look at the Papal cover-up process from the inside. She has a lawsuit against Maciel’s Legion of Christ for defrauding her now-dead aunt out of $60 million, by influencing her to rewrite her will. This suit has been going on for years. A Rhode Island judge has just ordered all documents in that suit be made public.

That’s all documents; according to the lawyer for the plaintiff, there are “yards” of them — all depositions, all discovery, everything will be made public. If anything involving the Legion of Christ’s relationship with the Vatican — and in particular John Paul and Ratzinger — is in those documents, they will be public as well.

No one knows (yet) what’s in them except the lawyers, but we’re about to find out. For fans of fixing the Church, this is good news indeed. Again, click to see just how closely tied Maciel, John Paul, and Ratzinger were; it’s an interesting story all on its own.

News first, then some public speculation, then a glimpse of the scale of the alleged fraud itself.

First the news, from David Klepper at the AP, who’s been following this closely (my emphasis and some reparagraphing):

RI ruling means release of Legion of Christ docs

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Documents related to a disgraced Roman Catholic organization called the Legion of Christ could soon be unsealed and available to the public following a decision Thursday by the Rhode Island Supreme Court.

The state’s high court issued an order declining to delay the release of the sealed documents, which are related to a lawsuit contesting the will of a woman who left $60 million to the Legion. … The documents could be available as early as Friday [February 15]].

The Associated Press, The New York Times, The Providence Journal and the National Catholic Reporter had asked a Superior Court judge to unseal the documents, saying there was no justification to withhold documents that could shed light on the Legion’s operations. … Depending on how the documents are stored, some could be available Friday, according to Joseph Cavanagh, the attorney for the media organizations.

From another AP story on the release of documents:

[Plaintiff Mary Lou] Dauray’s lawyer, Bernard Jackvony, said Friday that the documents being released show an orchestrated effort by higher-ups at the Legion to get Mee’s money and cover up Maciel’s misdeeds. … Among the documents being released are depositions given by top-ranking leadership of the Legion, including the Rev. Anthony Bannon, who was once Maciel’s deputy, and the Rev. Luis Garza, current head of the Legion’s North American operations.

Keep in mind that the charismatic Maciel frequently abused (or seduced) the seminarians in the Legion itself.

■ For more on what this means, we have this is from the Global Post:

The release of the voluminous court records by Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein came within days of the stunning resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, who ordered an investigation into allegations against Legion founder Fr. Marcial Maciel when Benedict played a powerful prosecutorial role in the Vatican as a cardinal and again in the early years of his papacy.

These documents are expected to shed new light on a scandal Benedict inherited from John Paul II, whose unwavering support of Maciel, even after allegations against him were filed in the Vatican in 1998, bolstered Legion fundraising campaigns. Pope Benedict’s trip to Mexico last year ignited a blaze of negative media coverage due to his failure to meet with sexual victims of the late Father Maciel, who symbolized the global scandal that has cast a shadow on Benedict and his papacy.

■ Even before he was made pope, Ratzinger was oddly touchy about his role in the Maciel scandal:

Then, four years ago, some of the men tried a last ditch effort, taking the unusual step of filing a lawsuit in the Vatican’s secretive court, seeking Macial’s excommunication.

Once again they laid out their evidence, but it was another futile effort — an effort the men say was blocked by one of the most powerful cardinals in the Vatican.

The accusers say Vatican-based Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who heads the Vatican office to safeguard the faith and the morals of the church, quietly made the lawsuit go away and shelved it. There was no investigation and the accusers weren’t asked a single question or asked for a statement.

He was appointed by the pope to investigate the entire sex abuse scandal in the church in recent days. But when approached by ABCNEWS in Rome last week with questions of allegations against Maciel, Ratzinger became visibly upset and actually slapped this reporter’s hand.

And for details of the alleged fraud itself, the Global Post article also points this out:

Fleet Bank, which later merged with Bank of America, facilitated the Legion’s access to the flow of money from Mee and the charitable trust of her late husband, Timothy. According to Jackvony, the bank should have maintained a wall between its duty to administer a trust and the Legion’s aggressive action to gain control of the funds.

“The Legion’s business relationship as a customer of the bank facilitated a sharing of information on the Mee trust that should have been kept in confidence,” Jackvony said. With access to the trust and Mee’s donations, the Legion bought a $35 million corporate campus from IBM in Thornwood, N.Y. in the 1990s.

The lawyer for the plaintiffs stated that the Legion used Mrs. Mee “like a piggy bank. They saw her as an economic engine and used her for $30 million in donations for 16 years. The defrauding of Mrs. Mee looms over this entire case.” Something needs to break the Vatican wide open. Let’s hope these documents will do it.

Side note: I agree with this commenter that we need to stop calling this behavior “sexual abuse” and start calling it by its real names — rape and torture. “Abuse” minimizes the horror that many victims went through. You can practice this as you speak about it. It’s not a “sex abuse” scandal; it’s a “child rape” scandal. In the case of the Magdelene Laundry children, it’s a “child slavery” scandal. Words count, which is why the other side distorts them so often.

GP

To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius


Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States. Click here for more. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius and Facebook.

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  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOILKHmZBwc Ritorna Vincitor

    It must have been Francisco that put the Lucia and Jacinta up to it. That explains why he had to go to Purgatory.

  • hollywoodstein

    The third secret was that the little girls made the whole thing up.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Thank you Sister Mary Wicked! LOL

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    That has got to be a jesuit joke!

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOILKHmZBwc Ritorna Vincitor

    You said it. The problem comes when that irrational faith tries to strike down my very rational marriage. That’s the kind of faith in action I could do without.

  • http://www.facebook.com/audrey.johnson.37 Audrey Johnson

    If you are going to comment on serious topics, then learn how to write properly with correct spelling, historical facts, and grammar, please. Seriously, nothing could be the actual, original Inquisition (though, of course, nobody would expect it.) Savonarola is dead, sweetie, all of the remaining Vanities are locked up in the Vatican (and I believe there are ordinances on public bonfires nowadays anyway), and the courtesans of Venice are safely making reality shows in Jersey and Orange County.

  • http://twitter.com/BillFromDover Bill from Dover

    Hey, all ya have ta do is suspend all rational belief.

    What’s so hard about that?

    I understand that they even invented a word for it; faith.

  • Indigo

    For starters, itt’s best to reduce the internationalism Rome claims and call the Pontiff by his real titles ,Bishop and Patriarch of Rome. Period.

  • FLL

    The documentary that I make reference to above notes that Marcial Maciel had a Vatican-supported budget of 650 million dollars with which to carry on his operations, and especially his fundraising efforts. Some screenshots of fundraising letters to his supporters show requests like, “can you send $2,500 today?” Maciel was a star-quality fundraiser, and that’s what matters most to the Vatican.

  • FLL

    Mega-“Like.” People are judged by the company they keep.

  • FunMe

    There really isn’t anything “Christian” or “Christ like” with the Catholic Church. Why would anyone want to be part of them. Many of the things Christ spoke against, like greed, torture and abuse of the weak, are things that the Catholic church does.

    Maybe when the Bible talks about the devil and evil, they are referring to the Catholic Church. The evil that men do. They are despicable and deserve to be in jail

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Back to his classic roots in the Sybil.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Can’t stop laughing! I tried to channel my inner OLF and she revealed that she wants to retire . She’s a Jewish mother ( for God’s sake) not a Catholic Madonna. Enough already!

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    “I do wonder what foulness we’d find crawling under Peter’s Rock,” My guess would be an ancient bustier, a pair of stilleto heels and a whip.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    John Paul, who is considered a saint by millions of deluded Catholics, kept very disreputable company: Maciel, Ratzo and worse ( if that’s possible) Opus Dei founder Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, another fascist and Nazi sympathizer.

  • Constant Comment

    There’s also the scandal with LA Cardinal Mahony–has all the communication involving the Pope been released?

  • pappyvet

    Just watched “Mia Maxima Culpa” again, I highly recommend it. Great background and very sad.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOILKHmZBwc Ritorna Vincitor

    Yeah, I heard a version of that one. The angels sent Him to therapy because He kept claiming to be three separate persons in one.

  • FLL

    I heard that the third secret of Fatima, what the Virgin Mary told the three children, was that for the time being, the Christian God is an agnostic because he doesn’t have enough confidence to believe in himself. Reportedly, the Christian God is going to therapy sessions to work on the problem.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOILKHmZBwc Ritorna Vincitor

    You’re most welcome, Becca. There indeed is life after faith. ;0)

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Thank you, dear Ritorna, for reconfirming my choice to embrace agnosticism. ;-)

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    As the old saying goes, “Follow the money.”

    It’s interesting how in the stories about the Mafia, drug empires, and other organized crime enterprises, much of the focus is on the thuggery, violence, and mayhem they commit, when the actual core of what they’re all about is money. It’s what fuels and sustains them.

    And as a centuries-old organization, the Roman Catholic Church has shown itself particularly prone to the corrupting influence of money. It was behind their decision to impose celibacy rules on its clergy (or try to, anyway). And their urging of people at the turn of the first millennium to donate their worldly goods to the Church. The selling of ‘holy favors’ became so rampant during the Dark and Middle Ages, it acquired a name and category of sin: Simony.

    I do wonder what foulness we’d find crawling under Peter’s Rock, if it were overturned today. Secrets are so much harder to keep in this modern world.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOILKHmZBwc Ritorna Vincitor

    Clearly we now know the third secret of Fatima! Isn’t it obvious? First there’s a mysterious explosion over Siberia in 1908. That was the first warning. Then comes 1917 and the Russian revolution which led to godless atheism that spread everywhere. But that same year the Blessed Virgin appeared on a rose bush in Fatima, Portugal, and gave three secrets to three little children. In the first secret she showed the children a vision of souls burning and screaming in Hell. That certainly got their attention. In the second secret she predicted World War II, and sure enough, World War II! But the third secret was not supposed to be revealed until 1960. By then the only surviving child, now a Carmelite nun, decided to write the secret down and give it to the Pope to be opened in 1960. But 1960 came and went, and the Pope didn’t announced what the third secret was. Catholics were in a frenzy to learn the secret. What did the pope know that he wasn’t telling us??

    Link for an explanation of the three secrets of Fatima:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Secrets_of_F%C3%A1tima

    Now meanwhile, Our Lady of Fatima said we should all say the rosary and pray for the conversion of Russia. Well, sure enough, along comes Polish (Soviet) Pope John Paul II, who just happens to be a good friend of infamous pedophile priest Marciel Maciel. And guess what. The Soviet Union collapses! Now, some say the third secret was that John Paul II was going to be shot, which he was. Others say it predicted the fall of godless communism. Others say it was that the Church would be infiltrated by Satan. (See photo of Ratzinger on the day of his election below.) But look what just happened. The next pope Josef Ratzinger, a former Nazi, recently announces his resignation just before the Maciel court documents are ordered released. And on the very day the documents are ordered released, another huge explosion in… where else…. Russia! I mean, talk about heavenly signs! I mean, the Church is in chaos with new scandalous revelations coming out all the time. Even Ireland is turning atheist. And Ratzinger has John Paul on the fast track to sainthood at the very time his connection to crazed pervert Maciel is being revealed. And on the very day that court documents involving Maciel that might severely embarrass the Vatican are scheduled to be made public, an asteroid just misses Earth, and another one hits Russia! Isn’t it obvious what the third secret of Fatima is? The third secret of Fatima is that Mitt Romney’s planet was supposed to arrive and convert us all to Mormonism, but because his assholines Ratzinger resigned, the Blessed Virgin interceded with Jesus to spare us and let it fly by, and instead she just hit Russia with a small chunk of it out of spite. There’s nothing like faith, I tell you!

    http://www.unsaccodicanapa.com/others/ratzinger.jpg

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Interesting, I didn’t know this. Thanks for cluing me in on it, most educational.

  • FLL

    Marcial Maciel, the madman behind this order, was an open admirer of Hitler’s Nazi regime when he was kissing up to Franco’s fascist regime in Spain during the 1940s. He would tell his seminarians to use the Nazi salute when thinking of Jesus, and say “Heil Jesus!” He was also a morphine addict. The entire disturbing story unfolds in this documentary: links for Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    This has been going on for decades. A friend of mine, now deceased, was in charge of accounts dealing with the Banco de Gambia, and said that the Vatican launders millions through those accounts every day.

  • jomicur

    Actually, Holy Mother Church did much the same thing to boys in Ireland, through a system of “reform schools” where the boys were subjected to all manner of abuse, including rape of course. I don’t believe it was as open-ended as the enslavement the women suffered, but the similarities are quite striking. One particularly horrific incident is detailed in the 2003 UK film SONG FOR A RAGGY BOY, which is available on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPPwAQFsQ8I. Anyone who’s seen THE MAGDALENE SISTERS will find it jarringly familiar. I found the film quite stunning and quite moving (in that horrible way I associate with my own Catholic upbringing).

  • ericxdc

    and another four letter word, “pope”

  • mycher

    I pray this suit brings all the evil out into the open for all the world to see. . . and those who can, to prosecute.

  • jomicur

    “Holy Mother Church” has operated for centuries behind an opaque veil of secrecy for centuries, but the veil is starting to come apart at the seams. I’ve never heard it alleged before that the church, via the Legion, was working with (or coercing) banks to give them private account information, and I find it almost as disturbing as all the kiddie-rape. This story can only get juicier, and I can’t wait.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    One correction or addition about the Magdelene Laundry slavery crimes: It was actually the open-ended enslavement of females — girl children and women adults. If you were an Irish girl old enough to talk, or an old woman still young enough to work, you could find yourself sent to the Laundries. And even though the term of involuntary servitude was supposed to be temporary, many of the former slaves said they were never told when they could expect to be let go, and once out, they were often threatened with re-enslavement.

    But the common denominator was a pair of X chromosomes. Boys and adult men were not enslaved thus by the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, only girls and women. Thus it was not exactly a ‘child slavery’ scandal, although that could be considered an accurate description of part of what happened until 1996.

    However, I’m glad you added that note, Gaius. It is important we start using the right terms to describe these horrific, systematic crimes.

  • lilyannerose

    To sum it up in one four letter word: EVIL!

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