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Legionaries of Christ: Controversial religious congregation involved again in scandals

Luis Francisco Gamez
6 min read
Legionaries of Christ: Controversial religious congregation involved again in scandals
Legionaries of Christ, involved in the Pandora Papers

The Catholic religious congregation, which bears the name of the Legionaries of Christ, is once again the focus of controversies; It was known some time ago that said congregation was involved in a series of sexual abuse scandals.

Due to this, an investigation was opened by the Vatican, who was obliged to see the veracity of the accusations against said religious congregation.

After it had left the public arena a bit, once again the religious congregation gives something to talk about, with its appearance in the recent publication of the Pandora Papers, the latest leak to which the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism has had access (ICIJ, for its follow in English).

This leak leaves the congregation in a very bad way, since it points it out to the higher echelons of the religious order of having deployed in the last decade a network of trusts and subsidiary companies that operates from a tax haven without leaving a trace of those who are behind…

Priests and businessmen close to the religious institution, have created between 2010 and 2011 a scheme that in a few years accumulated more than 295 million dollars, in assets with investments in real estate, technology or oil sectors.

To know a little about the congregation in question, I will give you a brief review of this religious organization.

History of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ

Legionaries of Christ: Controversial religious congregation involved again in scandals

It was founded on January 3, 1941, in Mexico City, by a seminarian named Marcia Maciel Degollado, born in a small town in this country, called Cotija de Paz, in the state of Michoacán.

The initial name of the congregation was "Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and of the Virgin of Sorrows", its first novitiate was founded on March 25, 1946, in the same way in Mexico City, thus with the passing of the years the congregation of religious was gaining strength and expanding.

His first own infrastructure work was the Cumbres school in Mexico City in 1954, in the following years the legionaries would be in more than 20 countries, not only with schools for the training of future priests, but also with universities and colleges for the formation of lay people worldwide.

In 2009, after accusations arose against the founder of the congregation, after years of investigation and denial by members of the congregation who tirelessly defended its founder.

Finally, the superiors of the congregation in this year officially recognized the immoral facts of the life of the founder, the holy see sent an apostolic visit, which took place between 2009 and 2010, finally issued a statement dated May 1, 2010 in the one who among so many things affirmed the following:

"The Apostolic Visit has been able to verify that the conduct of Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado has caused serious consequences in the life and structure of the Legionaries, to the point of requiring a path of profound review. The very serious and objectively immoral behaviors of the P. Maciel, confirmed by incontestable testimonies, sometimes represent authentic crimes and reveal a life devoid of scruples and true religious sentiment. This life was unknown to most of the Legionaries, especially because of the system of relationships built by Fr. Maciel, who had skillfully created alibis, earned the trust, familiarity and silence of those around him, and strengthened his own role as a charismatic founder. "

In 2017 the congregation announced that the rector of its seminary "Maria Mater Ecclesiae" in Rome, had left the priesthood, after confessing that he had two children.

Of what do the Pandora Papers accuse Legionaries of Christ?

Legionaries of Christ: Controversial religious congregation involved again in scandals
Mass in honor of the late founder of the Legionaries of Christ.

It is here at this point in the investigation, where we are already in context with the religious organization that is questioning at this time, being again in the eye of the hurricane, with this new accusation that it receives.

The Legionaries of Christ, has been a congregation that has always been characterized by being rich and wealthy in every way, although they confess and profess otherwise, for those who know any of their institutions or facilities of their apostolate centers, they are always in very high level areas.

In the leak of the Paradise papers, in past years offshore companies were discovered, of which the religious congregation defended itself, claiming that they were created when Father Marcial Maciel was general administrator, and that they were later closed.

However, in the Pandora Papers they confirm that the operations of the Legionaries of Christ continued, in the following years said congregation, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism (ICIJ), created an Offshore structure that has 295 million dollars in assets while the Vatican investigated the opacity of its accounts.

Controversial Legionnaires of Christ Trusts

Legionaries of Christ: Controversial religious congregation involved again in scandals
Luis Garza and his brother, who are appointed to open the main trusts attributed to the Legionaries of Christ congregation.

The investigation details 2 trusts that invested millions of dollars each year, in what the researchers called too exotic a portfolio for a congregation known for its ultra-conservative doctrine.

They are Salus Trust and AlfaOmega Trust, two trusts that were opened on November 15, 2011 in which they were used to investing in hundreds of projects around the world.

These trusts were created the first by Luis Garza Medina, top of the leaders of the congregation, note that this is a priest of the congregation, and the second trust was opened by his brothers Dionisio and Felipe de Jesús.

Millions of dollars were injected into the structure that they explained came from "Family inheritance", according to the creation acts, both had US $100 of initial capital, the funds that they later incorporated consisted of bank transfers, cash and possibly shares of the Mexican business group ALFA, founded by the Garza Medina family.

The curious thing is that two years the trusts grew at a dizzying speed, in 2017, six years after its creation AlfaOmega had 148 million dollars and Salus had about 147 million dollars, the money flowed through 4 Swiss banks towards investments mainly in America and Europe.

The question that remains for all of us, after reading all this, how is it that a Catholic congregation, which professes honesty and good behavior, how is it possible that it is involved in this type of matter? In itself, the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ, as we have been able to realize, has been involved in several very questionable acts, without knowing what other things it may be involved in.