The Vatican is investigating seven priests from the troubled Legion of Christ religious order for alleged sexual abuse of minors - evidence that the scandal over the order's pedophile founder doesn't rest solely with him, according to the Associated Press in a report published in Newsday.
Two other Legion priests are being investigated by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for alleged sacramental violations, believed to involve abusing spiritual direction and other pastoral care to have inappropriate sexual relations with women.
The investigations mark the first known Vatican action against Legion priests following the revelations of the Legion's founder, who was long held up as a model by the Vatican despite credible accusations - later proven - that he was a drug addict who raped and molested his seminarians.
The Legion, which is now under Vatican receivership, has insisted that the crimes of the Rev Marciel Maciel (pictured) 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.
In a statement released on Friday to the AP, the Legion confirmed it had referred seven cases of alleged abuse to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office that investigates sex crimes. All but one involves alleged abuse dating from decades ago; one case involves recent events, the Legion said.
FULL STORY Vatican eyes Legion priests on abuse (Newsday)