|In this Nov. 30, 2004 file photo, Pope John Paul II gives his blessing to late father Marcial Maciel, founder of Christ's Legionaries Source|
"Pope John Paul II is rightly credited with having helped bring down communism, of inspiring a new generation of Catholics with a globe-trotting papacy and of explaining church teaching on a range of hot-button issues as Christianity entered its third millennium.
John Paul and his top advisers failed to grasp the severity of the abuse problem until very late in his 26-year papacy, even though U.S. bishops had been petitioning the Holy See since the late-1980s for a faster way to defrock pedophile priests.
The experience of John Paul in Poland under communist and Nazi rule, where innocent priests were often discredited by trumped-up accusations, is believed to have influenced his general defensiveness of the clergy. The exodus of clergy after the turbulent 1960s similarly made him want to hold onto the priests he still had.
Pope Francis has inherited John Paul's most notorious failure on the sex abuse front — the Legion of Christ order, which John Paul and his top advisers held up as a model. Francis, who will canonize John Paul on Sunday, must decide whether to sign off on the Vatican's three-year reform project, imposed after the Legion admitted that its late founder sexually abused his seminarians and fathered three children.
Yet the Legion's 2009 admission about the Rev. Marcial Maciel's double life was by no means news to the Vatican.
Documents from the archives of the Vatican's then-Sacred Congregation for Religious show how a succession of papacies — including that of John XXIII, also to be canonized Sunday — simply turned a blind eye to credible reports that Maciel was a con artist, drug addict, pedophile and religious fraud."
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