Rev. Marcial Maciel was a conservative catholic leader who founded the Legionaries of Christ—an influential Roman Catholic group. He was born in Mexico where he lived most of his life. The Legion of Christ has 650 priests worldwide, 2,500 seminarians in 20 countries, and runs 12 universities including the University of Sacramento. Father Maciel was the most prominent priest disciplined after accusations of sexual abuse were made by former Legion seminarians in 1997. In 1994, he was praised by Pope John Paul II as a wonderful guide to youth, which prompted former Seminarians to publicly accuse Father Maciel of past abuse in 1997. The reverend repeatedly denied the charges. In 2005, the newly elected Pope Benedict XVI issued a rare public censure directed at Father Maciel and asked him to give up his public ministry.