Father Maciel: Conman and Rip-off Artist Extraordinaire

December 19, 2009 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog



The dreadful gauntlet of disclosure of the many frauds perpetrated by recently deceased Father Marcial Maciel, the founder and dictator of the Legionaries of Christ religious order and all its various sub-manifestations, such as its lay affiliate, Regnum Christi, just goes on and on, with no end in sight.


I’ve commented on this debacle before, here, here, here, here, here, and here, for example, and I’ve noticed that, like a throbbing toothache, the sordid details of this man’s double life and the depredations he committed with impunity against so many people keep emerging in a cascade of filth, the noisome puss of a long-abscessed tooth. Will the dentist perchance decide to simply yank it out by the roots so that healing can really begin? There is a precedent for that kind of thing, you know.

St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:26 that “when one member [of the Body of Christ] suffers, all the members suffer together.” It would not be an exaggeration to say that this particular abscessed tooth has been causing extraordinary pain for a quite a few members in the Body of Christ, and the Novocain wore off a long time ago.

The Catholic press is now starting to report on the latest unsavory detail in this tangled mess:

In an effort to distance itself from the wrongdoings of its founder, the Legion of Christ has recently circulated an internal memo detailing how a long venerated work of spirituality attributed to Fr. Marcial Maciel was actually a slight re-writing of a book from a little-known Spanish author.

“El Salterio de mis días” (The Psalter of my Days), according to the Legionary tradition, was regarded as written by Fr. Maciel during the period of the “great blessing,” (1956-59), when the Mexican founder was submitted to a canonical process by the Vatican that was finally called off.

The memo now reveals that the text, very popular among the Legion in its original in Spanish and partially translated into English for internal use, was “based” on the little known work of a Spanish Catholic politician, Luis Lucía.

In a book titled “El Salterio de mis horas” (The Psalter of my Hours), Lucía, a Christian Democrat, reflected on his experience of being persecuted both by the Communist government during Spain’s civil war (1936-1939), and the Nationalist government of Francisco Franco, who condemned him to death, but later changed the sentence to life in prison. . . . (continue reading)


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11 Responses to “Father Maciel: Conman and Rip-off Artist Extraordinaire”
  1. Emily says:

    *sigh

    It is unfortunate that so many Catholics feel it in their hearts that it is their duty to tear apart and slander those, like Fr. Marciel, who have sinned. We are all sinners.

    I am ashamed that so few of us recall the story in the gospels where the woman caught in adultery is brought before Christ. "Let the one who is without sin, be the first to throw a stone." We all fall. We are all human.

    We look to our leaders as examples of how we should act. Very few of us would want our own pasts drug up before our eyes and held out for all to see… Let us all speak with charity, for pride comes before the fall. "But for the grace of God, there I'd be…" :)

  2. GregK says:

    Maciel's defenders kept saying things like, "But if you only knew this man's spirituality."

    Yeah. He faked that too.

    The man was a transparent fraud. That was obvious from "Christ is My Life," which virtually shouts "con man."

    The true significance of the Maciel story — http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=ddf7ktxn_132cfng5wc4

  3. aronski says:

    I have mixed views about all of this – its great that the legion admits the theft but it is a half-assed admission.

    The family of the author are deeply distressed by the theft of their grandfather's beautiful words, and their use by such a monster.

    They are desperately trying to get a hard copy of the LC version – the LC are not providing them with one.

    Yet it is good to know that these texts are NOT by Maciel – it was hard to think how a monster could write something so beautiful – well he didn't – he PRETENDED he did so we would think he was so holy.

    Now why would someone need to steal and pretend to be holy?

    It is a half attempt at coming clean by the Legion and does not go far enough.

    It should be made clear what is plagiarised, an apology should be made to the family members and an attempt of restitution of any losses the family has made, or of any profit the legion has made with this fraud.

    The next question is – what is left of the Legion that is NOT fraudulent or dishonest?

    This is no longer the story of a troubled man who made a few mistakes.

  4. Kaylan says:

    I came into the Church in 1987 and love it, however I know little of the Legion itself and less of the founder despite all the media hype. Sadly, it seems to me that a dead man cannot defend himself against accusations. So I should think, no one should judge him or even accuse at this point since the truth will never be known.

    Plus, to those that point to the scandal as a reason to abandon their Faith in the Church, that seems an extremely poor choice of reason. There are far more good people (aka saints) in the Church than evil ones. Humans have free will, after all, and they can do good or bad.

  5. jane says:

    This could certainly explain some of the secrecy kept by MM with respect to his "writings" – they were not available outside of the LC for others to read. It makes no sense to keep hidden such a valued spiritual offering. Unless, of course, it is a plagiarized work, In which case it might be a very good idea to keep the deception hidden.

    I would love to know how this came to light. I am a bit suspicious of the timing. Did an LC just happen to read Luis Lucia's work and think "this sounds familiar"? A more plausible explanation is that someone has known about it all along, and has chosen to go public now to allow the Legion to distance itself from MM.

    "See? We were relying on a spiritual writing that was NOT written by a sexually abusing, thieving womanizer. Our charism is NOT tied to MM!"

  6. Jenni says:

    Makes me wonder about all the stories I heard when I was a canidate in CT. I bet most of the lore told about him and by him was made up! It gives me the willies!

  7. Steve says:

    I've been so critical of the Legion for so many years, often jeopardizing relationships and becoming a pariah in the RC circles I used to frequent, that there is a sense of relief in this torrent of evidence that I wasn't just an embittered ex-member with a vendetta.

    At the same time, it's sad that it takes so much ugliness to get people to see the truth. Or even that so much ugliness existed there in the first place.

  8. hrh says:

    Pedophile, rapist, addict, thief (embezzler), now plagarist? Wow, what a multi-tasker!

  9. Nick says:

    The more I know, the more I pray and hope in the Mercy of God.

  10. jane says:

    Many thanks for reporting on this matter.

    I am curious to know, where you state "…the Legion of Christ has recently circulated an internal memo…", does this mean the Legion of Christ publicized this memo, or rather that the memo was leaked, that it was, in fact circulated internally? As an Ex RC, I am interested (hopeful?) that the Legion has chosen transparency in this matter. It would go a long way towards restoring some ssense of hope that the Legion is reform-able.

    Thank you.

  11. _ says:

    Sad in what it says about Fr Maciel, but I'm not sure this is such bad news. People undoubtedly found spiritual assistance in the work, even if they mistook it for the work of another. Those who found such spiritual value in the words need not now reject them on account of Fr Maciel's misdeeds; Luis Lucia's work continues to shine. Would it be wrong to hope that many of the other beautiful words attributed to Maciel can be "retrieved" on discovery that they too were taken from others?

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