(Edited from AP, Vatican City) Vatican investigators have completed their probe into the Legionaries of Christ, the conservative order that was once hailed by Rome but fell into scandal after it revealed that its founder had fathered a child and had molested seminarians.

(Edited from AP, Vatican City) Vatican investigators have completed their probe into the Legionaries of Christ, the conservative order that was once hailed by Rome but fell into scandal after it revealed that its founder had fathered a child and had molested seminarians.

 

The Vatican said Tuesday its five investigators are to report back to Rome this week about their examination of the Legionaries’ 120 seminaries, schools and communities around the globe. In a statement, the Legionaries said the first phase of the inquiry was over and that a final report would still take several months for Rome to complete.

 

While the Vatican’s recommendations are unknown, Vatican analysts have speculated that the Holy See would at the very least appoint new leadership for the order and outline a series of reforms. Its recommendations will be closely watched, given the current focus on the Vatican’s handling the growing sex abuse crisis convulsing the church in Europe.

 

Pope Benedict XVI ordered the probe last year after prominent Legionaries members acknowledged its late founder, the Rev. Marcial Maciel of Mexico, had fathered a daughter and had sexually abused seminarians. Since then, a Mexican woman has come forward saying she had a lengthy relationship with Maciel, that he fathered her two sons, adopted a third and sexually abused two of them.

 

The disclosure of Maciel’s double life has caused enormous turmoil inside the Legionaries and its lay affiliate, Regnum Christi, particularly because the leadership has been less than forthcoming with information. The order had essentially created a personality cult around Maciel, teaching that he was a hero whose life should be studied and emulated.

 

So far, at least two prominent Legionaries priests have quit the order and begun the process of joining the New York archdiocese. In a letter announcing his departure, the Rev. Richard Gill, who headed the Regnum Christi movement in New York, said he was leaving in part because of the way the scandal had been handled by the order’s current leadership.

 

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