Reports of clerical abuse keep pouring in

One of my favorite movie moments from childhood is the scene from Rocky 4 where Rocky Balboa keeps getting repeatedly punched in the face by Ivan Drago (perhaps Doulph Lundgren’s greatest role), until finally, exhausted from punching, Drago is defeated. Rocky 4 was a true 80s cheese movie, complete with endless montages, pointless moralizing about steroid use, and of course, America winning the day. Despite its obvious flaws, the movie tries to covey the idea that no matter how many blows you take, you can still come back as long as you have enough sheer determination.

The Catholic Church must feel like Rocky right now. Every other day, some new allegation of clerical abuse is made, and you have to wonder how many more blows they can take to the face before they finally fall. The latest punch in the mouth comes from this article in the Independent, which deals with an abuse scandal of The Legion of Christ, an ultra-conservative, ultra-secretive sect of the church run by Father Marcial Maciel Degollado. A well connected and charasmatic figure, Maciel was close to Pope Jean Paul II, and many considered him a saintly man beyond all reproach. As usual, this smokescreen belied his seemingly insatiable thirst for young boys:

A year after Nuestro Padre’s death in 2008, the Vatican announced an investigation into the Legion. An unnamed official told America’s National Catholic Reporter newspaper that the total number of Maciel’s abuse victims was “more than 20 and less than 100”. As a team of cardinals opens the locked cupboards of an organisation that prided itself on secrecy – all new recruits had to take a unique private vow (abolished by Benedict in 2007) never to speak ill of the founder and to report to superiors anyone who did – the Catholic Church is once more mired in a scandal about the sexual abuse of minors, and the abuse of power.

When reports of abuse started coming in, the church did what they do best. They ignored it completely:

Then, in 1976, Father Juan Vaca…formally reported Maciel to his bishop for sexually abusing him from the age of 12. This was a time before the sexual abuse of minors by priests had been exposed. In 1978, fearing that his accusations had been swept under the carpet, Vaca sent a long statement about what had happened to him direct to the Vatican, and even received an acknowledgement. And then, nothing.

They story goes on to detail the restrictive and suffocating control Maciel has had on his followers. The Legion of Christ was no small institution; it had an annual budget of more than 435 million pounds, and ‘Our Father, or Nuestro Padre’ (as he was called by his followers) enjoyed a multitude of personal luxuries, including private suites, cars, and anything he desired to eat. Truly, here was a child molester living in paradise, able to control and manipulate his victims using the power of their faith to bend them to his will.

I’m not surprised this kind of stuff happens so often; the Church’s long policy of silence and secrecy makes it the perfect place for child molesters to hide. I’m not suggesting that all priests abuse children; but their beloved institution is corrupt to the core, with abusers at the highest levels of power. What I find surprising is how dismissive Catholics seem about this. No matter how many scandals come out, people still bring their children into the fold. Scary.

(props to Atheist Revolution for the find)

Comments (2)

  • avatar


    I agree completely on the issue of many Catholics being dismissive. Even though we know that only a tiny percentage of their clergy does this, the Church has such a clear history of enabling and concealing it. It is tough to understand how anyone would want to be associated with such a group.

  • avatar


    I am a Catholic. I believe totally in its dogma and doctrine but ***I DON’T THINK MUCH OF ITS SALESMEN****. Catholics have a wonderful idea of purgatory. When Christ reveals himself to you after death in all his glory and perfection – every blemish on your character is shown up in contrast. No more self deceit. For some one like this – it will be sheer hell.

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