VATICAN CITY — This week Fernando Martínez Suárez, a priest of the Legionaries of Christ, was dismissed from the clerical state. He had been found guilty of the sexual abuse of minors by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Martinez, 79, will remain a member of the Legion of Christ. He had been ordained a priest in 1964.
The Legion of Christ stated Jan. 13 that Martinez, "who was found guilty of delicts of sexual abuse of minors, as a result of the process before the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has lost the clerical state and can no longer exercise the priestly ministry."
Fr. Andreas Schöggl, secretary general of the Legion, wrote in a Jan. 13 letter to Martinez' victims that "the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith submitted the request to the Holy Father after an attentive study of the case.”
Martinez abused at least six girls, ages 6 to 11, between 1991 and 1993 when he directed the Cumbres Institute in Cancún.
He was also accused of other acts of abuse, including that of a boy between the ages of 4 and 6 at the Cumbres Lomas Institute in Mexico City in 1969.
Martinez had himself been abused by Fr. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ, in Ontaneda and Rome in 1954, when Martinez was 15.
An internal commission of the Legion published a report last month saying that since its founding in 1941, 33 priests of the Legionaries of Christ committed sexual abuse of minors, victimizing 175 children.
Fr. Maciel abused at least 60 minors.
Fourteen Legionaries who committed abuse of minors were themselves victims of abuse in the order.
The Legion of Christ was long the subject of critical reports and rumors before it was rocked by Vatican acknowledgment that its charismatic founder lived a double life, sexually abused seminarians, and fathered children.
In 2006 the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith removed Maciel from public ministry and ordered him to spend the rest of his life in prayer and penance. The congregation decided not to subject him to a canonical process because of his advanced age.
From that point, Pope Benedict XVI carried on a process of reform for the Legion of Christ, a process continued under Pope Francis.