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Last Updated: Friday, 19 May 2006, 13:23 GMT 14:23 UK
Mexican priest ordered to retire
Pope John Paul II gives his blessing to Father Marcial Maciel in 2004
Father Maciel (L) denies any wrongdoing
The Vatican has told the Mexican founder of the influential Legion of Christ order to retire to a life of prayer after sexual abuse allegations.

The Pope had approved sanctions against Marcial Maciel after seeing the results of an inquiry, a statement said.

It added there would not be a Church trial because of Father Maciel's age - he is 86 - and poor health.

Father Maciel - who founded the conservative order in 1941 - has long denied any wrongdoing.


Friday's statement from the Vatican did not say whether the accusations against him had been found to be true or not.

Instead, it said Father Maciel had been "invited... to a reserved life of prayer and repentance, renouncing every public ministry".

The Mexican priest had been accused by some former members of the Legionaries of sexual abuses dating back to the 1940s and 1950s.

In 1998, those accusations were taken to the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - then headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger who has since become Pope Benedict XVI.

In 2004, the Congregation said it would look into the allegations.

A year later, Father Maciel stepped down as head of the Legionaries citing his age.

The order has about 600 priests and 2,500 seminarians, and says it has some 65,000 members around the world.

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