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Pope signals Legion of Christ reform to continue

Wednesday - 6/26/2013, 7:01pm  ET

A gust of wind blows Pope Francis' mantle as he leaves St. Peter's square at the Vatican after his weekly general audience Wednesday, June 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

NICOLE WINFIELD
Associated Press

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Francis is signaling the reform process of the troubled Legion of Christ religious order will stretch beyond next year's target date amid continued reservations about whether it has truly changed its ways following revelations its founder was a pedophile.

In a letter made public Wednesday, Francis confirmed the order would convene a general assembly in early 2014 to elect a new leadership and approve a revised set of constitutions.

Francis said these would be "fundamental steps in the path towards authentic and profound renewal" -- an indication that the reform project will hardly end next year and that these events are just one step in the process.

Then-Pope Benedict XVI took over the Legion in 2010 after a Vatican investigation determined its Mexican founder led a double life: The late Rev. Marcial Maciel sexually molested seminarians and fathered three children with two women. One of his children says he molested him as well.

Benedict ordered a wholesale reform of the order after finding serious problems with its culture and appointed a papal delegate, Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, to oversee the process. Many priests disillusioned with De Paolis' efforts have left, convinced that no true reform is possible when a religious order's founder has been so discredited and when the essential spirit guiding it is so undefined. In addition, many of the leaders who covered up Maciel's crimes, or their prot
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