Disgraced Vatican priest to wed

2013-12-06 09:39
Thomas Williams. (Giulio Riotta, AP)

Thomas Williams. (Giulio Riotta, AP)

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Vatican City - Thomas Williams, the onetime public face of the disgraced Legion of Christ religious order who left the priesthood after admitting he fathered a child, is getting married this weekend to the child's mother, The Associated Press has learned.

The bride is the daughter of former US ambassador to the Holy See Mary Ann Glendon, one of Pope Francis's top advisers.

Glendon, a Harvard University law professor, is one of the highest-ranking women at the Vatican as president of the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences. She is also one of five people on Francis's commission to reform the scandal-marred Vatican bank.

Her daughter, Elizabeth Lev, is a Rome-based art historian and columnist for the Legion-run Zenit news agency, which Williams published for over a decade while he was in the order.

Williams, a moral theologian, author, lecturer and US television personality, admitted last year that he had fathered a child several years earlier.

At the time, Williams apologised for "this grave transgression" against his vows of celibacy and said he had stayed on as a priest because he hoped to move beyond "this sin in my past" to do good work for the church.

The Legion's retired superior later admitted he had learned about the child in 2005 but allowed Williams to keep teaching and preaching about morality.

Uncomfortable questions

After taking a year off for reflection, Williams left the priesthood in May to care for his son. According to their wedding registry, he and Lev are due to marry on Saturday in the United States.

Asked for comment on Thursday, Lev confirmed the wedding plans in an e-mail, adding: "We have no intention of ever discussing our personal life in this forum."

She had initially denied an intimate relationship with Williams, though they frequently appeared together in American circles in Rome, particularly with visiting US student and Catholic tour groups.

Their wedding closes a circle of sorts, even as it raises some uncomfortable questions: Who beyond Williams's superior in the church knew about the child while the couple tried to cover it up? Was Williams already in a relationship with Lev when she was hired at the magazine he published? And did the family ties to Williams influence Glendon in her defence of the Legion and its disgraced founder despite credible reports that the founder was a paedophile?

The saga of the Legion of Christ represents one of the most egregious examples of how the Vatican ignored decades of reports about sexually abusive priests as church leaders put the interests of the institution above those of the victims.

Read more on:    pope francis  |  vatican city  |  religion

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