Cases of clerical child abuse in the ultra-conservative Legionaries of Christ movement dating back decades have been reported to the Vatican, spokesman Federico Lombardi said Friday.
Informed sources said that the Vatican was investigating a total of seven priests from the movement, whose late founder Father Marcial Maciel was accused of having an illegitimate daughter and abusing eight seminarians.
"The relevant superiors (of the movement) followed the norms in force, signalling to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith some cases that have come to light from several decades ago," Lombardi told AFP.
The Vatican spokesman said he did not have more detailed information.
The Legionaries of Christ movement expanded hugely under late pope John Paul II and is now present in 22 countries, particularly in Latin America.
It has 800 priests, 2,500 seminarians and 70,000 lay people among its members and it also manages 12 universities.
Maciel died in the United States in 2008 at the age of 87 and Pope Benedict XVI authorised a full review of the order in 2010.
The Catholic Church has been damaged by thousands of child abuse cases in recent years, as well as accusations of cover-ups by senior Church figures.
It established new rules for handling the issue requiring all suspected cases to be reported to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.© ANP/AFP