For immediate release: Friday, December 16, 2013
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
Any real hope of reform in the scandal-ridden Legion of Christ seems very unlikely now. High ranking officials in this Catholic order reportedly still hold their criminal founder in high regard and are resisting substantial change, the Associated Press reports.
We are saddened but not surprised by this. For years, Legion officials hid and denied the misdeeds of Fr. Maciel and attacked the integrity of his victims. Then, Legion officials tried very hard to minimize the wrongdoing of Fr. Maciel. They’ve tried hard to pretend he’s basically the only wrongdoer in their cult-like institution. Now, they’re making token gestures towards progress only because of external pressure and they’re pretending they’re doing a major turn-around.
In our view, the Legion is an unhealthy outfit with a long and sordid history and many clerics with misguided, self-serving goals and priorities.
Fr. Sylvester Heereman is particularly disappointing. He implies that he’s more sophisticated and mature than wounded victims and betrayed Catholics because he can maintain a mixture” of feelings about his criminal supervisor while many others "cannot share those feelings."
We hope donors to the Legion will give elsewhere. We hope Pope Francis continues to push for real reform in this troubled and troubling religious group.