PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Documents detailing the dubious fundraising practices of a disgraced Roman Catholic religious order called the Legion of Christ were released to the public Friday, showing how the organization took control of an elderly woman's finances and persuaded her to bequeath it $60 million.

All fundraising is dubious when based on a myth that is sold by what amounts to a priestly Ponzi scheme.

The records include the first-ever depositions of high-ranking Legion officials. They shed light on the inner workings of a secretive congregation placed under Vatican receivership after the Holy See determined that its founder was a spiritual fraud who sexually abused his seminarians and fathered three children with two women.

The Pope worked for the New Inquisition within the Priesthood, inheritors to mass murder of untold thousands, including Serbs, gypsies, the Wise Women (with their abortifaciants), homosexuals ("fagots" with which to start the burning of heretics), and, yes, a scientist or two, not to mention the Cathari, the Jews of the Middle Ages and later, the Arianists, and all manner of rival religious movements and especially the Christian gnostics. 

A Rhode Island Superior Court judge said last year that the documents raised a red flag because a steadfastly spiritual elderly woman transferred millions to "clandestinely dubious religious leaders." But they had been kept under seal until The Associated Press, The New York Times, the National Catholic Reporter and The Providence Journal intervened, arguing that they were in the public interest.

In effect, this scheme amounts to Indulgences on a grand scale: millions given to rascally priests so that one may be bought out of Hell or Purgatory, the priests empowered with special prayers to intervene in one's afterlife existence, changing God's mind, as it were.

Pope Benedict XVI took over the Legion in 2010 after a Vatican investigation determined that its founder, the late Rev. Marcial Maciel, had lived a double life. The pope ordered a wholesale reform of the order and named a papal delegate to oversee it.

Why did he not intervene when he was second in command?  The next to top guy does the dirty work; it is his last challenge before payday: white smoke.  And all this time Benedict oversaw dealings with pedophile priest in the U.S., aiding and abetting the obstruction of justice and the enabling of recidivist priests in finding new parishes and new boys to molest, or girls as the case might be.

The Legion scandal is significant because it shows how the Holy See willfully ignored credible allegations of abuse against Maciel for decades, all while holding him up as a model of sainthood for the faithful because he brought in money and vocations to the priesthood. The scandal, which has tarnished the legacy of Pope John Paul II, is the most egregious example of how the Vatican ignored decades of reports about sexually abusive priests because church leaders put the interests of the institution above those of the victims.

"Willful ignorance" has a technical legal meaning: it suggests acts just short of malice; it means turning one's gaze away from activities that should have been reported in each instance to child protective services, failure to do so being a crime.  It suggests deprivation of the civil rights of the victims of the abuse, a violation of their most fundamental being.

The will of Gabrielle Mee, who died at age 96 in 2008, is the focus of the lawsuit. Mee's niece, Mary Lou Dauray, had alleged that Mee was defrauded by the Legion and unduly influenced by its priests into giving away her fortune. Her late husband was a onetime director of Fleet National Bank, which has since been absorbed by Bank of America.

There we have it: a dying widow is easy pray (pun intended): at 96, one has little will and can be subjected to undue influence.  One imagines a Marcial Maciel whispering sweet nothings into the old gal's ears as she lay dying, telling her God has forgiven her for his sins, though he might put her in Purgatory a little while just to make sure he hasn't come across any entries that were overlooked in his big Omniscience computer system.  A generous gift would buy her advance up the Heavenly Ladder.

Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein ruled in September that Dauray could not sue, but he noted there was evidence that Mee had been unduly persuaded to change her trusts and will and give the Legion her money. Dauray's lawyer, Bernard Jackvony, said Friday that the documents being released show an orchestrated effort by higher-ups at the Legion to get Mee's money and cover up Maciel's misdeeds.

And just who do you suppose was overseeing the doings of the Legion and taking the God Father's share of the filthy lucre?

The Legion says its actions surrounding Mee and her estate were appropriate and honorable. It says it did not exert undue influence over her decision-making, and that the gifts she gave to the order were made of her own free will.

What "free will"?  Very clever but ridiculous.

Among the documents being released are depositions given by top-ranking leadership of the Legion, including the Rev. Anthony Bannon, who was once Maciel's deputy, and the Rev. Luis Garza, current head of the Legion's North American operations.  In one deposition, Garza acknowledged that he was on a committee of Legion officials that was created to distribute funds from one of Mee's trusts exclusively for Legion activities.

I should think the government might want to look into this Luis Garza.  Taking advantage of a widow is unconscionable.

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Why do you think I contribute a modest sum to Americans United for Separation of Church and State each year?  To judge from all the religions we thought we had left in England and Europe when the Pilgrims came here, they are all alike in one respect: they feel that theirs is the only "true" religion.  That tends to mean that if church and state are united, the prevailing religion, just as they have in the past, will slaughter those who don't go along with the charade.

Ah but you know the pilgrims prized religious freedom so much they kept it all to themselves!

I am a firm (fanatical) supporter of the separation of church and state. But that does not apply to criminal acts – nothing in the Constitutions grants immunity to the church(s) that violate civil law. The last I checked child sexual molestation was a CRIME. Failure to report it is also a crime to say nothing of covering it up. These are scum that are giving Catholics spiritual guidance? They would be better served listening to Hannibal Lector.

I just saw a story online, maybe from Daily Beast, saying the Church is being taken to account for the failure to report and that the Pope's resignation may signal a possible scandal in the making.

Absolutely Joan and honestly lately I've been very frightened by the Tea Party, but I take heart that since 9-11 we've been seeing the death throes of fundamentalism in this country, at least that's how I console myself... I am living in the hell of a red state where as recently as this week one of our representatives told women to cover their nipples with duct tape to keep from being arrested... one wonders if a male nipple should too be found as vulgar and if not, why not? This freakish fear of glands... it boggles my mind. 

Now, to whom does one give allegiance? Do we want church to get messed up with state? Are all religions and religious corrupt and sexually sick? NO, But can I tolerate the destruction of the wall of separation between church and state? NO

Even if it were a "good" [sic] church entangled with the government, that would not last; political power draws the fundamentally corrupt, the rent seekers, the control freaks... give the state power over religion or vice versa and those people will swarm over it using the state to either crush their competing religions (in the first case) whilst leaving their own untouched, or use the state to positively favor their religion (in the vice-versa case).  Those good [again, sic] religions determined not to abuse government power in any of these ways will simply lose out.

The phrase "wall of separation between church and state" may not appear in the constitution (which is to be expected, metaphors should not be in legal documents which ought to be literally interpreted, the idea being that literal interpretation is harder to argue over) but the concept is implicit in what is there.  And it's important for everyone to note the wall works in both directions.

SteveInCO And cut off noses and ears of people who would not conform and burn them at the stake, and crush them under a pile of stones --- it took the poor man three days t die in Salem.

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