World Report

Legionaries of Christ pledge renewal after fresh sex scandal
Pope Francis greets Legionaries of Christ seminarians during his general audience in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican in 2014.

It has been discovered that the head of the Legionaries of Christ’s Rome seminary fathered two children in yet another scandal for the order.

In a statement, they announced that Fr Oscar Turrion, who was the rector of the Pontifical International, would leave the priesthood. It included a letter from the priest who asked “forgiveness for the scandal…forgiveness for my bad example and the negative witness I have given”. 

Turrion (49), from Spain, told the Legionaries in March that he had a daughter. He was subsequently ordered not to practice his ministry publicly, and a new rector was appointed. Last week he further admitted to having a son with the same woman several years earlier.

He did not tell the truth about his secret “out of weakness and shame” he said in his letter, adding that he had not used any of the seminary’s money but instead relied on donations from friends.

Turrion was a passionate footballer and was invited to compete in the Clericus Cup, a football tournament between Rome’s seminarian colleges.

The seminary, College Maria Mater Ecclesiae, has over 100 seminarians from countries all over the world.

He said he had “lost his grounding” and fell in love with a woman during the period of turmoil that hit the order when revelations about its founder, Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, came to light between 2006 and 2014.

Macial founded the order in Mexico in 1941, and was discovered to have molested young children, some as young as 12, after a Vatican investigation. At the time the order was run like a cult according to former members, and it was forbidden to question the founder’s motives.

Pope Benedict ordered Macial to retire to a life of prayer and penitence.

Accusation

The Vatican initially dismissed the accusations against Macial of sexual abuse. However it was eventually uncovered that not only were the accusation true, but he was also a drug user who had fathered several children with at least two women whom he sent money and visited regularly.

More recently in 2013 an American member of the order, Thomas Williams – a professor of moral theology at the Legion’s university in Rome – announced he was leaving the priesthood as he had fathered a child.

The Vatican appointed a commissioner to run the order and phase in a new leadership, rejecting suggestions from critics that it be suppressed. New constitutions for the order were approved in 2014 but the Vatican still has a special representative in its leadership.

The order said in their statement: “We are deeply saddened that the recent history of our congregation has quenched the fervour of some of our members. We are firmly committed to accompanying our brothers in moments of difficulty. Likewise, we reiterate our commitment to the path of renewal that we continue to follow led by the Church.”