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Former Legionaries of Christ leader dies from cancer aged just 56

Fr Corcuera died on Monday (CNS)

Fr Alvaro Corcuera Martinez, who actively led the Legionaries of Christ for seven years after the resignation of its disgraced founder, died this week in Mexico City after a long battle with cancer. He was 56.

Fr Eduardo Robles-Gil, who was elected general director of the order in February, urged members to pray for the repose of the soul of Fr Corcuera, who served as director “during the nine most difficult years in our history.”

Fr Corcuera was elected head of the Legionaries in 2005 and technically was still general director until Fr Robles-Gil was elected, although Fr Corcuera was granted what was described as a sabbatical in 2012.

At the time, Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, who was appointed papal delegate for the order after revelations that the founder, Fr Marcial Maciel Degollado, had fathered children and sexually abused seminarians, said he had invited Fr Corcuera to take a year off out of concern that a climate frequently marked by “suffering and misunderstanding” over the Vatican-ordered reform might harm the leader’s health.

The Legionaries said Fr Corcuera was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in January 2013.

Born in Mexico City July 22, 1957, he became a lay consecrated member of Regnum Christi in 1975 and joined the Legionaries of Christ four years later. He was ordained a priest in 1985. From 1993 to 2000 he served as rector of the Legionaries’ Pontifical Atheneum Regina Apostolorum in Rome.

Until he began his sabbatical in 2012, critics expressed concern about how someone who had been close to Father Maciel could lead the order as it began a wide-ranging reform of every aspect of its life, including its basic constitutions.