Wednesday, January 27, 2010

[5] Oh, Sweet Jesus, thank you for Protecting me from Maciel the Pervert!

The author of Our Father who art in bed, Paul Lennon, with parents in Rome, 1966

When I look back on the following episode, described in my memoir,  Our Father who art in bed, excerpted below,
I experience retro-active fear and revulsion:
I, too, was geographically close to him, the predator,
under the same roof, walking the same corridors...
Oh, my God! He sexually abused people on my watch - not that I knew of it at the time, pedophiles are so astute! But Vaca, Jurado and Parga were in the Legion at the same time as me, "prefects" in Salamanca and in Rome. Then, ten years ago, it came as a blow when I learned that one of my close companions in Bundoran and Rome, Michael Caheny, was also a victim.
Oh, Sweet Jesus, thank you for protecting me!
Oh, Holy Mother, how I cry for those that were abused!

My General Confession to Nuestro Padre

I am at Sanborn’s restaurant at the Plaza de las Estrellas

mall in Mexico City’s Anzures district on Saturday, September

10, 2005. Sitting across the table, Dr. Fernando González

interviews me about my experiences with the Legion of Christ

against the background of pedophilia. He is researching Maciel

& Legion abuses, and will later publish Marcial Maciel, the

Legion of Christ: Unpublished Testimonies and Documents. I tell him

honestly I was never sexually abused in the Legion, nor was I

ever approached in an inappropriate way by any member. Two

years after Sanborn’s I still must rack my brain to recall one

unusual incident.

It involved Father R.C., LC. I was already an

ordained priest. During one of my few visits to Rome, we were

strolling along the Via Aurelia Nova close to our Legionary

residence. A woman passed by. I paid only fleeting attention

to her. I can only infer that she was “a lady of the night” from

R.C.’s question: “Ever thought of going off with a prostitute?”

I said nothing but thought to myself: “What could have caused

you to pass a remark like that? Don’t you know I have sisters? I

love and respect women. Of course, I find them attractive. But

I don’t use them! I forgive you because you are a Legionary. One

never knows why Legionaries do things. Maybe you were on a

special mission to spy on me, to look for chinks in my armor.

What would you have said, thought, done if my answer had

been ‘Yes’? Was it just your own morbid curiosity? Yours was

certainly not the kind of question sanctioned by the myriad of

Legion rules, norms, guidelines and instructions.”

Entering the LC at age 17 and 7 months, I admit I was

very immature mentally, emotionally, and spiritually; naïve

and sexually unaware, too. However, as the son of a warm

and structured home, I had strong relationships with my

mother—her only son—and with my father; he and I were

“boon companions.” I did not need Nuestro Padre as a surrogate


I had the “privilege” of going to confession to Nuestro

Padre for the first time before my Religious Profession in

Salamanca, September 1962. I was 18 years and 10 months

old. By then my Spanish was good enough. It was suggested

to me by my spiritual director/superior that I make a general

confession to Nuestro Padre to receive special graces through

the Founder and as the best way of preparing for the religious


During the relatively uneventful and sheltered life I

had lived before entering the Holy Novitiate at age 17, I

had accumulated two “sins against purity” that troubled my

somewhat scrupulous conscience and about which I felt very

ashamed. Before entering the Legion I had unloaded one to

a Carmelite friar at St. Teresa’s Clarendon St., Dublin. In fear

and trembling I unloaded the second to Nuestro Padre, Man of

God. I do not recall any Earth-shattering advice or apocalyptic

revelation. I felt he was kind. At the end, I kissed the end of his

stole as a sign of reverence and gratitude. He may have brushed

my cheek with the tassel in a fatherly way. I experienced a great

sense of relief because I had been able to get rid of that sin. I

don’t remember any advice. Now, I had no sin on my soul, I

was free through the Sacrament of Confession, and I was ready

to take on my vows—although the doubts of faith continued

to torture me.

My interviewer Fernando insists: was there nothing, not

even the slightest sexual innuendo in this encounter with Fr

Maciel? No, nothing. “And you were not aware of any abuse

going on around you as appears from the testimonies of others?”

Not at all.

Taking into account the two dozen testimonies of sexual

abuse from the 40s and 50s, and those beginning to appear

regarding the 60s and 70s, why were so many of us so totally

unaware? Could it be that Father Maciel is a Master of the

Game of secret societies, with their isolated concentric circles

of information and power? Maciel in the middle, surrounded

by a first cadre of “unconditionals” who silently acquiesce to his

power? Only The Master knows everything. The unconditionals

know more than the following circle, and so on. The victims do

not necessarily belong to the inner circle, for it is now clear that

those closest to Maciel are used to bring more sheep into the

shepherd’s fold. They appear within a separate circle, isolated

from the community at large, which in turn is totally oblivious

to what goes on behind the infirmary door or Father Maciel’s

sickbay? Reading the chilling descriptions in John Le Carré’s

A Perfect Spy and Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago regarding

secrecy, isolation, and control lead one to such considerations.

I don’t think I can fairly say that Father Maciel was an

indiscriminate sexual predator, thought there is no doubt that

he had a large harem to choose from for years as undisputed

totalitarian leader of the Legion of Christ. Thus there is no

reason to believe that all who came within his “spiritual”

radius or halo were potential victims. That said, could it be

that the “sin” I confessed to Father Maciel in that first general

confession, about being sexually accosted by an Irish Christian

Brother, somehow “immunized” me against abuse? If so, oh

blessed “sin”! Or could it be that my conscience was already

gelling, thus making me impervious to molding according

to this Spiritual Director’s unusual criteria? Had I already

gathered sufficient “ego strength” to avoid enmeshment with

the guru? Or had he simply not found me attractive? Maybe I

wasn’t his type. Or my nose was too big.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

[4] Fr. Maciel's "Personal Assistants" and Male Nurses

El Puma’s Personal Assistants and Male Nurses

[Excerpt from "Our Father (Maciel) who art in bed"'s sole chapter on Fr. Maciel's Pedophile Activities]

During Novitiate in Salamanca, 1961-62, I was trained

as community nurse—which included giving shots of various

kinds—by Jesus Martinez-Penilla. Called “Padre Penilla,”

he was probably just another philosophy or theology student

appointed as “Prefect”, i.e., assistant superior. I never had any

problems with him, despite later reports linking him to sexual

abuse scandals in Ontaneda, Spain. He may have been Father

Maciel’s nurse, administering intravenous, intramuscular, and

subcutaneous shots to him. There was always a good stock of

injections, from vitamins to sedatives, in the supply cabinet.

Some medications were used exclusively by Father Maciel,

“Nuestro Padre’s medicines,” or could only be administered with

his authorization. I distinctly remember largactil phials which,

I believe, Father Penilla administered either to Father Maciel or

other members of the community on an as needed basis. We all

knew that Nuestro Padre was affected by a variety of illnesses

that required rest, special care, and medication. Knowing Father

Maciel’s secretive nature, it is more than likely that he kept

his personal effects—including more personal medications—

always close at hand, in his room, with his luggage, or in the

infamous crocodile-skin briefcase.

I was never Nuestro Padre’s nurse.

During my stay in Salamanca, Brother Guillermo

Adame was his personal assistant, secretary, valet, nurse and

chauffer. This young man—a dark-skinned well built Mexican

with chiseled features and jet black hair, who was never

ordained—later had a nervous breakdown and left the order; a

“throwaway”? His younger brother, Carlos, was also a member

for a period and he too left without holy orders. Both were

musically talented. I distinctly remember Guillermo playing

Bach’s Toccata on the chapel organ. Other special “secretaries”

to Maciel paraded by during my Legion training in Salamanca

and Rome: Valente Velasquez, Raul De Anda, Bonifacio Padilla,

Francisco Parga and others. In retrospect I thank God for not

having the “privilege” of being particularly close to El Puma.

He did want to be our “father”; he loved to be considered such

by the brothers, and to be addressed with terms of affection.

I remember feeling early on some anger toward a fellow Irish

novice for using what I perceived as the even more endearing

term of “Mon Père” when addressing the Founder. Although

some of the older members used this name, the title smacked

of too much adulation for me.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

[3] Father Maciel's Sexual Seduction Technique

Pedophile founder of the Legion of Christ, Fr. Marcial Maciel, embraces now Superior General, Alvaro Corcuera, after the latter's ordination

El Puma’s Accusers, flashbacks

[excerpt from Our Father [Maciel] who art in bed, a Naive and Sentimental Dubliner in the Legion of Christ....]

I supported Father Peter Cronin when, in 1992, he

initiated a newsletter to other ex-legionaries whose whereabouts

he knew. We were unaware of the serious accusations of sexual

abuse against Father Maciel at that time and for several years

later. The bomb exploded in the American media in 1997 with

the Hartford Courant articles of Renner and Berry. I had not

read them and was still oblivious.

In 1998 I received a phone call at my home from José

Barba: “Paul, do you remember me? I am José Barba. Do you

believe our testimonies?” It was too point-blank. “Testimonies,

about what?” I was totally at sea. I lacked context and

information. First, we had to catch up on the past twenty-five

years of our lives. Such is frequently the disjointed existence

of ex-Legionaries. I remembered José Barba, known as one of

the most intelligent LC students ever, from a visit I paid him

when he was an ex-Legionary teaching at La Universidad de

las Americas in Puebla, Mexico. Legionary priest Juan Manuel

Amenábar—who would later accuse Father Maciel on his

deathbed—because of the relative freedom his fundraising

activities then afforded him, found a way to visit his old

confrere. I do not know why he took me in tow that day.

Barba now launched into an explanation of his efforts to

bring the testimonies of ten ex-Legionaries accusing Father

Maciel of sexually abusing them to the notice of the Catholic

hierarchy. He mentioned other members I knew personally,

Juan Vaca and Arturo Jurado. I was surprised but the stories

seemed credible. He told me about one of his encounters with

Father Maciel. It was true to the Legion atmosphere, and to

the customs and character of the Marcial Maciel I had come to

know beyond the aura of holiness and the legend of integrity.

One thing I was convinced of regarding Maciel: he had no

concern or respect for people. Nevertheless, I could not roundly

condemn him without knowing more. I would be open to

learning more about the accusations. After that I read the

newspaper articles. They rang true. They were all different,

but said the same thing. Maciel’s method sounded uncannily

authentic; the abuse sickeningly real.

“Dear Arturo (Jurado),

On Tuesday I received the videotapes you sent and started

watching them last night (April 4, 2003; Mexican Canal 40,

Círculo Rojo Program April 15, 2002), beginning with the

first video: the “rough” version of the testimonies of three brave

ex-Legionaries. On the screen appeared the face of Jose Barba

whom I haven’t seen for many years, and there he was, full of

dignity, ruefully talking about his abuse. I was saddened and

angry at Father Maciel listening to Jose’s story. I, who love

to sleep late, did not sleep well. I got up at six; a record for

me. As I follow with the second tape, the Mexican Canal 40

report, I understand better the nature of, and grasp the reality

and seriousness of, this abuse. Hearing and watching Alejandro

Espinoza talk about the recruitment of “pretty” boys I made an

uncanny connection with my own “intuition.” I seem to have

stumbled onto the realization of Maciel being an “ephebophile”,

an adult who loves adolescents, a few days ago when I shared

my reflections with our ReGAIN group.

Memories and names from my own experience come

to mind. When I arrived in Salamanca in September 1961,

I do remember seeing a certain Arturo Jurado. He belonged

to another community, and therefore we were not allowed to

speak or communicate in any way, although we lived under

the same roof. (You told me later, Arturo, that Maciel had

you “quarantined” as a form of punishment.) At the time I

assumed Bro. Jurado was already a Philosophy student in

apostolic practices (i.e., a period when the Legionary takes a

break from studies to get experience in one of the Legion’s

Apostolates or missions). From what I remember, although I

could not talk to him, he did seem to be a particularly gentle

and quiet individual. I certainly do not remember crashing into

him during one of our “friendly” intramural soccer matches.

But maybe that too was forbidden to you during your solitary