Legionaries Issue Statement on Father Thomas Williams

Ask for Prayers in Time of Penance and Renewal

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ROME, MAY 16, 2012 (Zenit.org).- In a message made public Tuesday, the territorial director of the United States for the Legion of Christ, Father Luis Garza, informed Legionaries and Regnum Christi consecrated members of a personal declaration made by an American Legionary priest, Father Thomas Williams.

“A number of years ago – Williams writes -- I had a relationship with a woman and fathered her child. I am deeply sorry for this grave transgression and have tried to make amends. My superiors and I have decided it would be best for me to take a year without active public ministry to reflect on the wrong I have done and my commitments as a priest. I am truly sorry to everyone who is hurt by this revelation, and I ask for your prayers as I seek guidance on how to make up for my errors.”

Father Garza clarified that Father Williams “will undergo a period of reflection, prayer and atonement without public ministry.”

“I know that this will be shocking news to you,” the director added. “In the wake of all that we have been through as a Movement in the past several years, it won’t surprise me if you are disappointed, angry or feel your trust shaken once again.”

Last Friday, the Legion announced that it had referred to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith seven cases of complaints against Legionaries regarding abuse of minors. One of the seven is a recent case; the others are from decades ago.

The congregation also announced that two other formal allegations not classified as "delicta graviora" had also been presented to the Vatican congregation.

Regarding the Father Williams case, Father Garza concluded his statement with a request for prayer “for all those who have been affected by his actions, and for Father Williams during his time of prayer, penance and renewal of his priestly ministry.”

Father Williams taught at the Legion's university in Rome, Regina Apostolorum. He has also been a Vatican and religious affairs analyst for NBC, CBS, and Sky News, and has published 14 books on Catholic spirituality and doctrine. He was the publisher of ZENIT for several years.

The full text of Father Garza’s statement is below:

* * *

May 15, 2012

To all Legionaries and Regnum Christi consecrated members,

It is with sadness that I send you this note, especially at a time when we are experiencing renewed enthusiasm for our mission within the Church. The last thing I would wish is to add a fresh wound when older wounds may not have healed fully.

Nevertheless, it is my duty to inform you that Father Thomas Williams, LC, after consultation with his superiors, will undergo a period of reflection, prayer and atonement without public ministry, and has just issued the following statement:

“A number of years ago I had a relationship with a woman and fathered her child. I am deeply sorry for this grave transgression and have tried to make amends. My superiors and I have decided it would be best for me to take a year without active public ministry to reflect on the wrong I have done and my commitments as a priest. I am truly sorry to everyone who is hurt by this revelation, and I ask for your prayers as I seek guidance on how to make up for my errors.”

I know that this will be shocking news to you.  In the wake of all that we have been through as a Movement in the past several years, it won’t surprise me if you are disappointed, angry or feel your trust shaken once again.

Father Williams has enriched the faith of so many through his teaching, public speaking and writing, and has been a spiritual guide for many in the Movement.  That is what makes this failing such a painful reminder that we are all frail humans, in desperate need of God’s mercy.

I hope that you will join me in praying for all those who have been affected by his actions, and for Father Williams during his time of prayer, penance and renewal of his priestly ministry. 

Any further information is at the discretion of those involved. We will support them in any decision they make.

Yours in Christ,
Fr. Luis Garza, LC