Legionary Priest Interviewed by OSV on the Scandal Crisis

(courtesy of New Advent)

John Norton, for OSV:

I asked Legion of Christ Father Thomas Williams, an American who has held various leadership positions in Rome for his order, including as dean of theology for its pontifical university, to comment on the future direction of the Legion in the wake of its recent admission of unspecified failings on the part of its founder, Father Marcial Maciel.

Father Williams is familiar to many American television viewers as an analyst for CBS and formerly for NBC. He’s also authored a number of theology books.

Here are his responses via email this morning:

Our Sunday Visitor: It cannot have been easy for the Legion to acknowledge flaws in the founder. What precipitated it now?

Father Thomas Williams, L.C.: Shortly after the Vatican’s communique of May 19, 2006 [requiring Father Maciel to retire to a private life of penitence and prayer] Father Alvaro Corcuera [Father Maciel’s successor as head of the order] began an internal investigation of the charges lodged against Father Maciel. In this investigation, he discovered that Father Maciel had fathered a child, who is now in her early 20s.

OSV: In the public statements so far from the U.S. and Rome spokesmen for the Legion, there has been acknowledgement of the discovery of “surprising and difficult to understand” facts about Father Maciel’s life that were “inappropriate” for a Catholic priest. Leaks from LC/RC sources indicate that those “facts” include at least the fathering of a child. But swirling around are also the original accusations of sexual abuse of seminarians, and revived rumors of drugs and inappropriate use of congregation funds. If the “facts” discovered by the LC leadership were limited only to the mistress, one would think the Legion would make that clear. (The “rights of privacy” argument advanced by Father Scarafoni yesterday frankly rings a little hollow; it is not like the Legion needs to provide names, addresses and phone numbers of those involved.) So is it fa
ir to read the statements as an acknowledgement that some or all of the other allegations are true, or at least suspected?

Father Williams: During the investigation it became clear that some of the charges were patently false (contradiction of dates and places, etc.) while others seemed plausible and even likely. Obviously it is never possible to know for sure what happened in the past. I do not know which of the accusations were more likely true, but what seems evident is that some of them must indeed be true. . . . (read article)

[N.B. from me: Father Thomas Williams, LC, has been a dear friend of mine for many years. I admire him greatly and have always known him to be model priest and a straight-shooter when asked difficult questions. As a spokesman for the Legion, I hope he will not be constrained by folks above him in the ecclesiastical food chain from being completely forthright and courageously honest in explaining what’s going on.]  


  1. 5xBlessed

    Just wanted to thank you for all of your posts regarding this news about Fr. Maciel. I am an RC member who has concerns and is waiting to see how things go from here. I have been checking here regularly for updates. I think you have a very balanced view of it all and I appreciate that. Nicole

  2. Charmaine

    For anyone interested, Fr. Thomas Williams and Fr. Jonathan Morris will be appearing on EWTN’s The World Over with Raymond Arroyo Friday night, 8:00 p.m. EST.

  3. AdamTrek

    My wife is an ex-consecrated RC member, so is her sister, and their younger sister is the only one that felt the conviction to stay and fulfill her consecration to the fullest. They all have nothing but the fondest memories in RC, not to mention these ladies all grew with a tremendous amount of formation that they could not have received otherwise. This news is affecting families, big time. A childhood friend of my wife was just ordained a LC priest. He is as good as a guy can get.This news does nothing to change the holiness of the movement and the good people in it. In fact, it doesn’t change my thinking on Fr. Maciel. We are supposed to forgive. Are there a lot of Christians walking around with grudges against St. Paul? We all know what he did!Please put this into some perspective. I have a feeling he has lived a life of purgatory repenting for his past actions. I wouldn’t doubt if Fr. Alvaro was given a post-haste letter written by Fr. Maciel himself telling all and asking for him to investigate the truth of everything told and to reveal the full truth when it was deemed by the Lord through prayer. I don’t have knowledge that this is how it went down, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this is how it happened.May we forgive fellow man and ourselves for all transgressions against Christ and his Bride.Or perhaps something else so sinister is going on that we cannot even fathom. I’m not a conspiracy wacko, but, perhaps has the smoke of Satan truly entered the throne? Maybe he’s only at the side altar causing much damage through lies and deceit and waiting to pounce once the pope faulters or is forcibly taken away?I’m at the point in my life when I believe almost anything is possible knowing what I know and the ways of man.

  4. Patrick Madrid

    HRH, since you want to be snarky and insulting, go do it somewhere else. I’m not going to waste my time with it.

  5. Barry

    I have spent time with the legion and feel a great sorrow for all those good LCs and RCs in this very difficult time. Having said that, I think that it is impossible to separate the movement from the founder, so I hope that the spirituality which has been engineered by Fr Macial is examined in the light of these revelations and that the good catholics both priests, consecrated and laity can move forward with the grace of God to a more holy spirit inspired future.Barry

  6. Anonymous

    I am (excuse me WAS) a RC member until all the evidence about Maciel's life unraveled.How can Fr. Williams affirm that Fr. Corcuera after an investigation "discovered" an off spring of Maciel…PLEASE fr. Williams there's such a thing as the Internet now a days stop treating us as children, When the Mexican media has made public that Norma Hilda (mistress) and Norma Ribas (maciel's child) were by his bed side at the hospital in jacksonville FL, and he (Maciel) told Corcuera and other high-ranking LC's that he rather keep his Normas (meaning Norma mistress and Norma daughter) and that Corcuera was shocked and Called Rome to have The 3rd LC in comand come to FL and make Maciel come to his senses.Plase Fr. Thomas you are just as blind as all the LCs, RCs, etc…But I can't blame you, you are only a victim just like all the other God fearing L.C.s I no longer consider my self an RC member and encourage others to seek God truly in spirit and in truth.The Legion is a flawed order.And keep in mind as the mexican proverb says:"Arbol que nace torcido, jamas su tronco endereza""A tree that grows crooked will never straighten its trunk"God bless us all.

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