Blessed John Paul II’s 2004 meeting with and praise of the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, who later was banished to a life of penance because of sexual abuse, was a mistake, said the late Pope’s longtime secretary, reports CNS in The Catholic Herald.
'The Holy Father should not have received that individual,' said Polish Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, who served as personal secretary to the former Pope for 39 years.
In a new book, Ho Vissuto con un Santo (I Lived with a Saint), released in early November, Cardinal Dziwisz said the meeting was just one example of a serious lack of communication in the Roman Curia, which Blessed John Paul tried, largely without success, to reform.
Although rumours had been circulating for years that the Legion’s founder, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, had sexually abused seminarians, Cardinal Dziwisz said, 'When the Holy Father met him, he knew nothing, absolutely nothing. For him, he was still the founder of a great religious order and that’s it. No one had told him anything, not even about the rumours going around.'
'Unfortunately,' the cardinal said, 'it was the consequence of a still extremely bureaucratic structure' where important information was not always shared.
A similar lack of communication, he said, led to retired Benedict XVI lifting the excommunication of traditionalist Bishop Richard Williamson in 2009 before finding out the bishop was a Holocaust denier when 'it would have been enough to check the internet' to discover it.
After John Paul II was elected in 1978, the first non-Italian Pope in more than 450 years, he said, 'some in the Curia called him "the Polish Pope," and I don’t think they meant it in a positive way.'