“With great pain”

The superior general of the "Legionaries of Christ," Alvaro Corcuera Martinez del Rio, has apologized to the victims of assaults committed by the founder of the order, Marcial Maciel Degollado (1920-2008). The community notes the transgressions "with great pain" and asks forgiveness from all those who have been harmed, Corcuera said Tuesday in Rome.

The Legionaries of Christ order is currently the focus of Vatican investigations. The background is sexual relations of its founder, which resulted in at least one daughter. Back in 2006, the Vatican had reprimanded Maciel in connection with allegations of sexual abuse. Mexican Superior General Corcuera also met Tuesday with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone for a quarter-hour conversation on the sidelines of an academic event. Nothing was disclosed about their content. Referring to the visitation of religious institutions by Vatican investigators, Corcuera said the process could possibly be completed this year. On the future of the order, Corcuera expressed confidence. "We are very much at peace because we are sure that the grace of God accompanies us," the priest said. At the end of the investigations, there will be "a humbler congregation" that can serve others "with a great sincerity of purpose, with great goodness and mercy," the superior general said. Maciel, founder of the order, had died in February 2008 in the U.S. at the age of 87. He has been accused of abusing young seminarians since 1997. He is also said to have given them absolution for sexual acts committed together. Canon law provides for automatic excommunication for this, which can only be resolved by the pope himself. Maciel himself denied the accusations. The Vatican has entrusted five bishops with the investigation of the incidents. Spanish Bishop Ricardo Blazquez Perez of Bilbao is to be in charge of the "Legionaries of Christ" institutions in Europe, with the exception of Italy. Other visitators are the U.S. Archbishop of Denver, Charles Chaput, the Chilean Archbishop of Concepcion, Ricardo Ezzati Andrello, as well as the Bishop of Tepic in Mexico, Ricardo Watty Urquidi, and the Italian Bishop of Alessandria, Giuseppe Versaldi.

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