Vatican City: The scandal-plagued Legionaries of Christ says it has accepted the pope`s decision to appoint a personal delegate to lead and reform the order following revelations that its founder sexually abused seminarians and fathered at least one child.
In a statement posted on its website late Saturday, the Legionaries said its members "embrace his provisions with faith and obedience”.
The statement was issued after the Vatican announced a crackdown on the conservative order once championed by Rome, saying a papal envoy would take over and reform it and that a special commission would study its founding constitutions.
The decisions were made after five Vatican investigators reported back to Pope Benedict XVI about their eight-month global inquiry into the order after its late founder was so thoroughly discredited by revelations of his double life.
In announcing the papal takeover, the Vatican excoriated the Rev Marcial Maciel for creating a "system of power" built on silence, deceit and obedience that enabled him to lead a double life "devoid of any scruples and authentic sense of religion" and allowed him to abuse young boys unchecked.
"By pushing away and casting doubt upon all those who questioned his behaviour, and the false belief that he wasn`t doing harm to the good of the Legion, he created around him a defence mechanism that made him unassailable for a long period, making it difficult to know his true life," the Vatican said.
But rather than closing the order down, which some critics had called for, the Vatican assured the Legion`s current members that it would help them "purify" what good remains in the order and would not be left alone as they undergo the "profound revision" necessary to carry on.
In their brief statement, the Legionaries said they thanked the pope, accepted his provisions and said they appreciated the Vatican investigators` "hard work and dedication”.
"And we are grateful for the prayers of so many people of goodwill who have supported us at this time," the order said.
The pope`s response to the Maciel scandal is being closely watched because the Vatican is facing mounting pressure to aggressively confront clerical abuse. The Maciel case has long been seen as emblematic of Vatican inaction on abuse complaints, since Maciel`s victims had tried in the 1990s to bring a canonical trial against him but were shut down by his supporters at the Vatican.