The Vatican is investigating seven priests from the troubled Legion of Christ religious order for alleged sexual abuse of minors and another two for other alleged crimes, The Associated Press has learned.
The investigations mark the first known Vatican action against Legion priests for alleged sexual assault following the scandal of the Legion's founder, who was long held up as a model by the Vatican despite credible accusations - later proven - that he raped and molested his seminarians.
The Legion, which is now under Vatican receivership, has insisted that the crimes of its late founder, the Rev. Marciel Maciel, were his alone.
But the Vatican investigation of other Legion priests indicates that the same culture of secrecy that Maciel created within the order to cover his crimes enabled other priests to abuse children - just as abusive clergy of other religious orders and dioceses have done around the world.