The Legion of Christ, a Catholic religious order, has been struggling to recover from allegations of pedophilia and indiscretions resulting in the birth of at least one and as many as six children to its founding priest (a scandal brought to light in 2009), and new revelations have again thrust the order into the spotlight for unflattering reasons.
Legion of Christ founder Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado had long been beset by scandal in his life, with bouts of drug abuse and sexual molestation allegations marking the priest’s later years. Degollado died in 2008, and by 2009 had been formally sanctioned by the church for his indiscretions. Two years ago, the Vatican slammed the Legion of Christ founder for “very serious and objectively immoral acts” that had been “confirmed by incontrovertible testimonies” and allowed the fallen clergyman to engage in abusive behaviors through a “system of power” of his own creation.
The Legion of Christ scandal was called to mind today when a prominent priest of the order, Fr. Thomas Williams, LC, ThD, admitted he too had fathered a child, breaking his vows of celibacy. Williams was a face of the Catholic Church in the media, often speaking on news stations about continuing scandals within the Church regarding sexual abuse and impropriety.
On news of his own indiscretions, Fr. William said he would be taking a year-long break from his duties and confirmed that he was “deeply sorry for this grave transgression” in breaking his vows of celibacy. In a statement, Fr. Williams said:
“A number of years ago I had a relationship with a woman and fathered her child. I am deeply sorry for this grave transgression and have tried to make amends. My superiors and I have decided it would be best for me to take a year without active public ministry to reflect on the wrong I have done and my commitments as a priest. I am truly sorry to everyone who is hurt by this revelation, and I ask for your prayers as I seek guidance on how to make up for my errors.”
The unfolding scandal has struck another blow to the Legion of Christ, a group some have described as having cult-like qualities.