Confidential Vatican files once safeguarded in the sealed archives of the Congregation for Institutes and Societies of Consecrated Life were recently leaked to three Mexican men, and the essence of their contents casts a dark shadow over the reign of Pope John Paul II and his imminent sainthood. They reveal that for decades, six consecutive popes were aware of the criminalities of the late Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, a paedophile Mexican priest who founded the wealthy and now-disgraced Legionaries of Christ and who in 1994 was made a permanent consultant to the Congregation for the Clergy by Pope John Paul II.
Popes protected a Catholic criminal
Now, as Legionaries leave the order in droves, it has been revealed that the 212 files covered the years 1944-2002 and they add to the knowledge of the inner workings of Fr. Maciel’s religious order that John Paul II publicly presented to the world as a model of Catholic orthodoxy. Proceso, a Mexican-language magazine published in Mexico City reports that the files were handed to Fernando M. González, a researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Alberto Athié, a former priest and academic at the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico (ITAM), and José Barba, one of Fr. Maciel’s victims, who are to publish extracts from them in a book currently being prepared for publication. The files show that for almost a half century, from Pope Pius XII (d. 1958) to Pope Benedict XVI today, the Holy See had full knowledge that Fr. Maciel was not only a drug addict, but that he was sexually abusing children and corruptly manipulating the Holy See’s financial structures. From 1956 onwards, the Catholic hierarchy protected Fr. Maciel in spite of numerous accusations against him, and purposely glossed over his decades of criminal acts.
In Mexico, articles were published about the leaked documents in various media outlets and Proceso reproduced a letter from Fr. Maciel dated October 3, 1956 that was addressed to Cardinal Valerio Valeri, prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Religious. In the letter, Fr. Maciel responds to his suspension from a seminary that came about from accusations against him of pedophilia and drug addiction which had come from, among others, prominent Mexican officials of the time, including Sergio Méndez Arceo, bishop of Cuernavaca, and Cardinal Miguel Darío Miranda, primate archbishop of Mexico (Proceso). In the document, Fr. Maciel states that the charges against him ‘are nothing but a slanderous accusation’, but he complied with the two-year suspension to seek clinical treatment, and warned that under the circumstances he would not be able ‘to control the future acquisition of funds, or their management’, which could result in ‘possible financial imbalances’ (Proceso). In 1959, Fr. Maciel Degollado was re-instated as superior general after been suspended for two and a half years during a Vatican investigation into his conduct that found the accusations against him were true.
Fr. Maciel was ‘one of Catholicism’s worst child abusers’
During the term of his papacy Pope John Paul II took Fr. Maciel with him on three overseas journeys to Mexico, the first in January 1979, 1990 and 1993. Those trips were public signs of the extraordinary bond between the two men, yet the Pope either actively or passively ignored open allegations that Fr. Maciel was an active paedophile who also fathered children with at least two women and whose monetary schemes included bribery and financial misconduct in the highest levels of the Vatican. Fr. Maciel collaborated extensively with John Paul II who praised, endorsed and glorified him, promoting him to different Vatican offices and making him an integral part of the Holy See’s inner circle of associates. Public accusations against Fr. Maciel again surfaced in the mid-1990s, yet John Paul II protected him from investigation and criminal charges right up to his death in 2005. One victim reported that Fr. Maciel boasted that he had a special written dispensation from Pope John Paul II to allow him to be masturbated because of the pains he suffered as a result of his ‘delicate’ health.
In the last week of October, 2011, an Associated Press story under the headline, ‘Legion of Christ investigation: The cover-up continues’, the Italian cardinal appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to clean up the order, Velasio De Paolis, said this about the possibility of another enquiry into other alleged cover-ups within the Legion; ‘I don’t see what good would be served … rather, we would run the risk of finding ourselves in an intrigue with no end … because these are things that are too private for me to go investigating’. The implication of his statement is that there is more to be revealed about the secrets of the Legionaries of Christ, and they may well involve Pope John Paul II.
Vatican exorcist at paedophile priest’s death-bed
Fr. Maciel was a member of the Vatican’s old boy’s club and part of an exclusive and charmed inner circle. He had the Holy See’s protection, tolerance, and shelter for his criminal actions, right up to, and including the current pope, Benedict XVI. In 2006, and as ‘punishment’ for his perverse life, Benedict XVI ordered the disgraced Fr. Maciel to live a life of prayer and penance, and at the same time admitted that John Paul II had approved a ‘false prophet’ in promoting Fr. Maciel, who in his dying days, had an exorcist in attendance at his bedside.
Ghouls in St. Peter’s
The three recipients of the once-secret documents were surprised at the speed with which John Paul II was beatified, considering the pontiff was not only fully aware of Fr. Maciel’s criminal conduct, but abetted his crimes. For those unfamiliar with the story, there were numerous calls from Catholics groups and even some cardinals to halt the beatification process until a full review of his record as pope was assessed. However, in Vatican City on Sunday May 1st, 2011, Benedict XVI bestowed the status of ‘blessed’ on his predecessor after the Vatican had determined that John Paul II had performed the necessary miracle for his elevation. In a ghoulish performance, his coffin was disinterred from its resting place of six years and placed on a platform beneath the main altar of St. Peter’s for pilgrims to pass in rituals, and express emotions that accompany the passing of a loved one. Amidst widespread opposition, he was beatified only six years after his death, and non-Catholics saw the ceremony as an obscene display of the worship of the dead similar to ancient Pagan tradition.
(Based on an article in Proceso, April 30, 2011, and expanded with exclusive extracts from one of Tony Bushby’s pre-publication manuscripts, ‘Pope John Paul II’s Dark Secrets’.