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The Legionaries of Christ revealed the names of their new general council on Feb. 6, also issuing a formal apology to those hurt by the immoral actions of their founder.
The announcement of the new superiors comes in wake of the Legionaries’ first General Chapter meeting, which began on Jan. 9, and was mandated by Benedict XVI in wake of the revelation of the double-life led by the congregation’s founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel, who is since deceased.
In a Feb. 6 press release, the Legionaries revealed the election of Fr. Eduardo Robles Gil as their new General Director, and Fr. Juan José Arrieta, as Vicar General.
“Since my ordination, I have served in different parts of the world and in different types of ministry: schools, family ministry, administration or as a superior of a Legionary community,” Fr. Eduardo recalled in the press release, “Now, I will have to get used to Rome.”
Fr. Eduardo was elected by the Chapter on Jan. 20, and his new role was personally confirmed by Archbishop José Rodríguez Carballo, O.F.M., secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, on Feb. 6.
In addition to publishing the names of their new superiors, the Legionaries also published their conclusive stance on their founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel, and on the path of renewal the Legion of Christ has been traveling.
In the press release detailing their official statements, Fr. Eduardo noted that the General Chapter which has just concluded “marks both an ending and a new beginning.”
“This is what many of the chapter fathers feel and that’s how we have expressed it in the chapter hall,” he said, adding that in order for it to “truly be a new beginning, it is necessary to put the challenges of the past in their place.”
“We can’t erase the past,” the director noted, emphasizing that “we have to learn the lessons, mourn what occurred, trust in God’s mercy and, like St. Paul, run forward in pursuit of the goal of reaching Christ.”
Regarding the actions of founder Marcial Maciel, Fr. Eduardo stated that when “we ponder the magnitude of the evil and scandal caused, we realize that we are under the merciful gaze of God who, with his providence, continues to guide our steps.”
The new director expressed his hope that God will “have mercy” on Fr. Maciel, who passed away in 2008, and expressed his “deep sorrow” at the founder’s acts of abuse, sexually explicit behavior, his “arbitrary use of authority,” and addiction to drugs.
Voicing their “firm condemnation” of the founder’s behavior, Fr. Eduardo expressed the congregation’s grief that “many victims and other affected persons have waited so long in vain for an apology and an act of reconciliation on the part of Fr. Maciel.”
“Today, we would like to issue that apology as we express our solidarity with these persons.”
Highlighting that Fr. Maciel is no longer a “model” for the congregation, nor are his writings “a guide for the spiritual life,” the new director observed that “a religious congregation and its essential features do not have their origin in the person of the founder.”
“They are a gift of God that the Church accepts and approves and that afterwards live in the institute and in its members,” he stated.
In their formal apology to the victims of Fr. Maciel’s actions, the Legionaries acknowledged “with sadness the initial incapability of believing the testimonies of the persons who had been victims of Fr. Maciel, the long institutional silence and, later on, the hesitations and errors of judgment when setting out to inform the members of the congregation and others.”
“We apologize for these shortcomings, which have increased the suffering and confusion of many,” Fr. Eduardo stated on behalf of the congregation, also expressing his “sadness” that the “brothers, religious and priests” who have left are no longer with them.
“We would like to apologize and reiterate our desire to reconcile with all those who in one way or another were hurt by the sad events of these years and our shortcomings.”
The press release also included the financial findings of the commission that was assigned to investigate the Legionaries, and which found that there were no traces of “embezzlements of money or other irregularities in the fiscal actions that were reviewed.”
In consideration of “all these issues,” Fr. Eduardo underlined that the congregation’s journey to an “authentic and profound renewal,” which is confirmed by Pope Francis, “has advanced, but has not yet ended.”
“The events of these years will mark the identity and the life of our Congregation,” he said, adding that “when seen in light of Providence, we can accept, confront and transform them into a stepping stone towards a new stage in our history.”
Fr. Eduardo was born in Mexico City in 1952, and after receiving a degree in industrial engineering, he became a consecrated member of Regnum Christi in 1975. He made his perpetual profession in 1981, and was ordained a Priest in 1983.
In 2011, Fr. Eduardo was appointed Card. Velasio De Paolis to be a member of the Outreach Commission for the Legionaries, and he has been the territorial director of Mexico since Aug. 1, 2013.
Among the other six new council members for the Legionaries are Fr. Juan José Arrieta, LC. as Vicar General, and Frs. Sylvester Heereman, LC., Jesús Villagrasa, LC., Juan Sabadell, LC., as General Councilors.
Others include Fr. José Gerardo Cárdenas, LC., as General Administrator, and Fr. Clemens Gutberlet, LC., as General Procurator.
Praying to Our Lady of Sorrows, who was “a witness of the redemptive power of Christ that conquers evil and sin,” Fr. Eduardo stated that “to her, our Mother, we entrust our future with great confidence.”