Catholic group says reformed after abuse scandals

Catholic group says reformed after abuse scandals

Rome (AFP) - The Legionaries of Christ, a Catholic movement whose founder was a sexual predator, on Tuesday said they had managed to change with Vatican support, but one abuse victim told AFP the group was an "unreformable sect".

"The Legionaries have reconciled with themselves," Italian cardinal Velasio de Paolis, who was appointed by the Vatican to lead the troubled movement in 2010, said at mass following weeks of meetings near Rome.

"They have looked inside themselves with a purified vision and examined the situation to expunge the potential traces of pollution left by their founder on their identity and their laws," he said.

The congregation was created in 1941 by Marcial Maciel, who sexually abused seminarians and fathered at least three children despite his vow of chastity.

Maciel died at the age of 88 in 2008 in Mexico.

The congregation last year said it had found a total of nine of its priests guilty of sexual abuse of minors including Maciel.

When the Legionaries began their "general chapter" last month, some former members had called for the congregation to be disbanded and accused senior members of having covered for Maciel's crimes.

The powerful group was praised by late pope John Paul II because it brought numerous new vocations to the priesthood and the Vatican was criticised for failing to heed the warnings from abuse victims.

The Legionaries have adopted new statues following "a long conscience exam" and these have now been submitted to Pope Francis for final approval.

But one victim, Frenchman Xavier Leger, said the announcements were a "whitewash".

"They re-did the facade. This chapter is the ratification of a process that has already been orchestrated" by the Vatican, he said.