After Pandora Papers report, Legionaries of Christ deny wrongdoing
A network of offshore trusts and subsidiaries established by priests and businessmen close to the Legionaries of Christ has moved up to $ 295 million across four continents, according to a wealth of leaked documents obtained by the International Consortium of Journalists of ‘investigation and published by the Spanish newspaper El Pays.
The existence of the trusts was revealed in the Pandora Papers, a leak of nearly 12 million documents on the secret details of offshore accounts, which can be used to hide assets or avoid taxes. None of these actions are necessarily illegal, and the Legionaries of Christ deny any wrongdoing.
The legionaries said in a statement that the order had a trust to “receive and distribute donations specifically to cover the costs of elderly and sick priests and consecrated persons or for other religious, charitable or educational purposes.”
The revelations raise new questions about the finances of the Legionaries of Christ, an order founded in Mexico by Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado in 1941.
Maciel woos the wealthy and asks for their generous financial support. But he died in disgrace in 2008, after being ordered by Pope Benedict XVI to lead a life of prayer and penance after being accused of sexually abusing seminarians and leading a double life in violation of teaching. Catholic.
After another leak of documents, the Paradise Papers 2017, the Legionaries of Christ declared that the offshore accounts for the management of the funds of their schools were closed. A review of its finances in 2014 did not reveal any irregularities.
The trusts and subsidiaries revealed in the Pandora Papers were created in 2010 and 2011, according to El País. By this time, the Legionaries of Christ had come under scrutiny from the Vatican.
The first trust, known as the Retirement and Medical Charitable Trust, was established in New Zealand on July 6, 2010, just three days before Pope Benedict XVI asked Italian Cardinal Velasio de Paolis to oversee a reorganization of the Legionaries. of Christ and his lay branch. Regnum Christi.
The Legionaries of Christ were listed as the sole beneficiary of the trust, which was created to “collect donations and make investments” and to “financially assist members who had retired, were mentally affected or injured in an accident, “according to the founding documents of the trust. , reported El País.
Two other trusts, AlfaOmega Trust and Salus Trust, were established in November 2011 to make investments. The proceeds of those investments – which range from oil projects and film production to Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises – were sent to The Retirement and Medical Charitable Trust, according to El País.
The funds from an “inheritance” were transferred to the two new trusts.
The Legionaries’ statement said, “These two trusts are independent of our congregation. The congregation has never controlled these funds, their conditions, operations, investments, nor determined how their funds are allocated.
However, according to the statement, “institutions linked to the Legionaries of Christ have requested loans from the two trusts, created by this priest and his family to finance projects.”
He added that the congregation was repaying the priest’s loans made before the trusts were created. These payments are made to the trusts according to the priest’s instructions, the statement said.
Legionaries P. Luis Garza Medina and two brothers opened the AlfaOmega Trust and the Salus Trust, according to El País. Garza Medina was linked to the founder of Grupo Alfa, a Mexican conglomerate, and was considered close to Maciel.
A spokesperson for Dionisio Garza Medina, a businessman and one of Garza Medina’s brothers, told El País that the AlfaOmega Trust was created to “support retired and needy priests and consecrated Catholics, as well. as to support social, charitable and spiritual projects based on Catholic teachings. “