Film to take on infamous Mexican pedophile priest

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15 August 2012

AFP – The story of an influential Mexican priest accused of rampant child sex abuse will be featured in a new movie — secretly filmed in Mexico this summer.

Marcial Maciel founded the Legionaries of Christ over six decades ago. It is now active in 22 countries, and in particular at schools and universities.

But starting in 1997, a number of students began to come forward to accuse the high-profile priest of molesting them.

After years of denials, the Vatican finally opened an investigation in 2004, culminating two years later with Maciel’s resignation from the top post at the Legionaries.

The priest was forced to withdraw to lead “a life of prayer and repentance.” He died in January 2008, at the age of 87.

Soon his story will hit the big screen, in a Luis Urquiza production called “Perfect Obedience,” which began filming in July under close wraps.

Among the few details that have emerged about the film: producers have cast a number of children between 10 and 15 years old, but say the kids “don’t know the story, because of the delicate subject matter. Only the parents are aware” of what the film’s really about.

But the movie tells a broader story than just Maciel’s abuse.

“Others also profited from the mission” of the Legionaries to perpetrate abuse, Alberto Athie, a former priest who served as an adviser for the film, explained to AFP.

“It is also a question of institutional behavior to cover up the abuse, and that’s what will be clear in the film,” Athie added.

He coauthored a book called “The Will Not to Know,” which inspired the film and which focuses on the protection the Catholic church gave to Maciel and others for a number of years.

Athie renounced his ministry in 2000 to become one of the main whistleblowers against pedophile priests.

He maintains that the Vatican, and Pope Benedict specifically, were long aware of the sexual abuse Maciel was committing.

Mexico archdiocese spokesman Hugo Valdemar said he could not give an opinion on the film as he is not familiar with the project.

“The Church obviously does not applaud this type of film,” he told AFP.

“It’s a very shameful history for us, but we are in a society where there is full freedom of expression.”

He hopes, nonetheless, that the film will show “a minimum of respect for certain values” of Catholicism.

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