MEXICO CITY — Legionary Father Álvaro Corcuera Martínez del Río, former general director of the Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi, died in Mexico on Monday after a long battle with cancer.
“I invite everyone to offer Masses and prayers to commend his soul to God and thank God for the life of this father, brother and friend, who has been our general director during the nine most difficult years in our history,” the Legion’s current general director, Legionary Father Eduardo Robles-Gil, wrote in a June 30 letter to members of Regnum Christi, the Legion’s lay affiliate.
Father Corcuera was the first successor of the disgraced Legionaries of Christ founder, Father Marcial Maciel.
He was born in Mexico City on July 22, 1957, and became a lay consecrated member of Regnum Christi in 1975. He joined the Legion of Christ four years later and was ordained a priest in 1985.
From 1993 to 2000, he served as rector of the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, a university of the Legion in Rome.
In 2005, after Father Maciel’s decision to step down from the congregation’s leadership, Father Corcuera was elected the Legionaries of Christ’s general director by the congregation’s general chapter.
After increasing allegations of sexual misconduct involving the congregation’s founder, the Legion, under the leadership of Father Corcuera, acknowledged in a March 2010 statement that “reprehensible actions” by Father Maciel, including sexual abuse of minors, in fact happened.
“Given the gravity of his faults, we cannot take his person as a model of Christian or priestly life,” the statement said.
In May 2006, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ordered Father Maciel to retire to a life of “prayer and penitence.” Father Maciel died in Jacksonville, Fla., in January 2008.
Father Corcuera headed the Legion and Regnum Christi during the tumultuous period that followed a year-long visitation of all the congregation’s communities, a visitation ordered by Pope Benedict XVI. Once the visitation was completed, Pope Benedict in 2010 appointed then-Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, who was later made a cardinal, as pontifical delegate to the Legion and gave him full governing authority.
In October 2012, Father Corcuera sought and was granted a leave of absence from his post as general director. In January 2013, he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.
“This sickness has allowed me to experience firsthand that life is a constant examination to prepare for our definitive encounter with God, a constant conversion to go to heaven,” Father Corcuera wrote at the time. “God is being very good in giving me this gift of being able to meditate more profoundly on this and to experience his mercy. There is no moment in which I don’t realize how good God is.”
Weakened by the cancer treatment, he nevertheless participated in the general chapter of the Legionaries of Christ in January 2014.
Father Corcuera’s final resting place will be the French Cemetery in San Joaquín, Mexico City.