"A number of years ago I had a relationship with a woman and fathered her child. I am deeply sorry for this transgression and have tried to make amends. My superiors and I have decided it would be best for me to take a year away without active public ministry to reflect on my commitments as a priest. I am truly sorry to everyone who is hurt by this revelation, and I ask for your prayers as I seek guidance on how to best move forward."Although the two do not seem to be linked, this comes after news yesterday that some Legion of Christ priests are under Vatican investigation for seven allegations of sexual abuse, with most of the allegations concerning decades-old incidents.
'The Legion of Christ is firmly committed to receive and examine all accusations presented, reaching out to possible victims and always safeguarding the rights of all those involved,' the Legion said May 11. 'We invite everyone to pray for these brothers of ours and especially for the victims.'
In several countries the major superiors of the Legion of Christ have received allegations of 'gravely immoral acts' and other serious offenses committed by priests.
An internal investigation ruled that seven accusations of sexual abuse of minors by priests had a 'semblance of truth.' These allegations were then referred to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for investigation.
One allegation of the abuse of minors concerns a recent event, while the others are 'from decades ago.'
The relevant territorial directors and the general director of the Legion have applied 'precautionary measures.
The Legion of Christ has undergone turmoil after revelations that its founder, Fr. Marcel Maciel, lived a double life, sexually abused seminarians, and fathered children.
It is presently under the supervision of Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, who was appointed by Pope Benedict to oversee reform of the order.
Fr. Williams has been a frequent guest on Ave Maria Radio and is a Catholic priest and professor of theology and ethics. He grew up in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and studied finance and economics at the University of Michigan, where he earned a bachelors degree in business administration and managerial economics with high distinction. Shortly afterward, in September, 1985, he entered the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ and for the next nine years studied Catholic spirituality in Cheshire (Connecticut), classical humanities and ancient and modern languages in Salamanca (Spain), and philosophy and theology in Rome. Williams was ordained a Catholic priest on November 25, 1994 in Mexico City.
He holds degrees in theology, philosophy and business administration, as well as a diploma in languages and classical humanities. He is senior fellow of the Saint Paul Center for Biblical Theology, and a member of the Pontifical Academy of Saint Thomas Aquinas.
He is known as an author of many books and for his television appearances as a Vatican analyst and consultant on faith, ethics and religion, previously for NBC, and currently for CBS News.
He was teaching at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Atheneum, a university run by the Legionaries of Christ in Rome, Italy.
John Allen at the National Catholic Reporter reports:
Out of what he described as “respect for the privacy of the woman and her child,” Williams declined to identify the woman or provide other details. He confirmed, however, that the relationship had occurred while he was already a priest and a member of the Legionaries.
Williams told NCR the woman has declined economic assistance, and that she was neither his student nor someone to whom he had offered spiritual direction.
Williams decided to come forward after a former Legionary priest in Chile, who is now active in a group called the “Association of Aid for Victims of the Legion of Christ,” reported rumors of the affair to senior Vatican officials. A copy of that report was obtained by NCR.
The report also asserted that Williams has had sexual relations with students at the Legion’s university in Rome, Regina Apostolorum, where until recently he was on the faculty. Williams denied those charges.
The report further alleged that Williams had a sexual relationship with the daughter of a prominent American Catholic personality. On that point, Williams said he will not comment on specific individuals.