Legionary brother talks about wound of Father Maciel’s transgressions

ROME — Legionaries of Christ Brother Daniel Turski drew a striking contrast between Blessed John Paul II and Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, the disgraced Legionaries founder, while asking a question after a talk by chastity author and speaker Christopher West.

Christopher West speak in front of an image of Blessed Pope John Paul II during a Theology of the Body conference at Regina Apostolorum University in Rome Nov. 11. (CNS/Paul Haring)

At a conference on the “Theology of the Body” today at the Legionary-run Regina Apostolorum University, in an auditorium full of Legionary brothers and priests, Turski held up the late Pope John Paul as a model of chastity in contrast to his order’s founder, Father Maciel, who who was discovered to have sexually abused seminarians and fathered children.

In responding to Turski, West encouraged the Legion to be honest about its weaknesses and not try to hide the wound of Father Maciel’s transgressions. “There is a new humility in you,” West said of the Legion, adding that he saw great hope for the Legion as “the army that will bring Theology of the Body to the world.”

I spoke with Brother Turski after he made his comment. He said he hadn’t planned to say it, but it came out spontaneously.

Speaking about the late pope and the Father Maciel, Turski told me, “One opened his wounded humanity to Christ, but another recognized his wound but hid it out of fear.”

Turski, a Canadian who entered the Legion in 2003, said that he was very struck when West pointed out that sexual desires are not meant to be repressed, but rather — through the virtue of chastity — lived in an appropriate manner.

“We’ve had the repression of what is wrong, but haven’t had the proper education of what is right,” Turski said of sexual formation in the Legionaries. He said that Father Maciel’s personal wound “has trickled down into chastity formation.”

Turski said there was plenty of talk about avoidance in his chastity formation, but he also said he saw the need for something West advocated in his talk: namely reverence. West had talked about reverence being the virtue that enables one to see the dignity of the person as one would see a beautiful flower he or she would not want to trample over.

Turski said he and his Legionary brothers talk among themselves about Father Maciel. A fellow Legionary brother also said this was not the first time that a Legionary such as Turski had publically acknowledged Father Maciel’s misdeeds.

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