A communiqué issued today by the Vatican press office said that "since 1998, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has received accusations, which were already made public in part," against Father Maciel, 86, "for offenses reserved to the exclusive competency of the dicastery."
"In 2002, Father Maciel published a statement to deny the accusations and to express his disgust for the offenses against him by former Legionaries of Christ," the statement said. "In 2005, for reasons of advanced age, Reverend Maciel retired from the office of superior general of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ."
"After submitting the results of the investigation to careful study," continued the statement, "the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, under the guidance of the new prefect, His Eminence Cardinal William Levada, has decided -- taking into account both the advanced age of Father Maciel as well as his poor health -- to drop the canonical process and invite him to a reserved life of prayer and penance, renouncing all public ministry. The Holy Father has approved these decisions."
The text adds that "irrespective of the person of the founder, the distinguished apostolate of the Legionaries of Christ and of Regnum Christi is acknowledged with gratitude."
Later, the Legion of Christ issued a statement in which it explained that Father Maciel, "facing the accusations made against him, [...] declared his innocence and, following the example of Jesus Christ, decided not to defend himself in any way."
It continued: "Father Maciel, with the spirit of obedience to the Church that has always characterized him, has accepted this communiqué with faith, complete serenity and tranquility of conscience, knowing that it is a new cross that God, the Father of Mercy, has allowed him to suffer and that will obtain many graces for the Legion of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement."
"The Legionaries of Christ and the members of the Regnum Christi, following the example of Father Maciel and united to him, accept and will accept always the directives of the Holy See with a profound spirit of obedience and faith," the statement added. "We renew our commitment to work with great intensity to live our charism of charity and extend the Kingdom of Christ serving the Church."
Father Marcial Maciel was born in Cotija de la Paz, Mexico, in 1920.
The Legion of Christ is a religious congregation of pontifical right, founded in 1941.
It has more than 650 priests and close to 2,500 major and minor seminarians. It has houses in 18 countries.
Regnum Christi, also founded by Father Maciel, has some 65,000 members, including lay men and women, deacons and priests spread throughout the world.