Pliino Lepri, AP / Pope John Paul II blesses late father Marcial Maciel, founder of Christ's Legionaries, in November 2004. The Vatican is now investigating seven priests from the Legion of Christ religious order for alleged sexual abuse of minors.A couple years ago I blogged about the Vatican’s takeover of the long-troubled priestly order Legionaries of Christ. This order’s founder, the late Fr Marcial Maciel Degollado, had been a darling of the previous Pope, the Blessed John Paul II. It seems, in hindsight … after years of internal Church investigations that only really began once John Paul had died … that Fr Maciel had been up to no good, and the order itself served as a front behind which he operated as a kind of rogue clerical princeling. My prior blog post on Maciel lays out some of what he’d been up to.

But it turns out the late Fr Maciel wasn’t the only misbehaving Legionary of Christ. Two years after taking over this sorry excuse for a clerical order, the AP reports (via USA Today), the Vatican has begun looking into the affairs of several other Legionaries (WebCite cached article):

The Vatican is investigating seven priests from the troubled Legion of Christ religious order for alleged sexual abuse of minors and another two for other alleged crimes, The Associated Press has learned. …

[T]he Vatican investigation of other Legion priests indicates that the same culture of secrecy that Maciel created within the order to cover his crimes enabled other priests to abuse children — just as abusive clergy of other religious orders and dioceses have done around the world.

This has actually been a long time coming. For years, the Vatican bureaucracy has been nosing around, collecting reports of various abuses by the order and its members. So what have the canon lawyers been doing with themselves, all this time, especially after they’d been running the order for two years now? I have no idea … and I suspect they don’t either. So now that these individual investigations have begun, it would be unreasonable to expect them to be resolved any time soon. We’re in for several more years of waiting for word as to what they finally discover. In other words, the investigations will stretch out long enough that some of those being investigated, or the witnesses involved, will die off; at that point the investigators will decide they have too little information to make any determination.

Photo credit: Pliino Lepri / AP, via USA Today.

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