Legionaries of Christ Issue New Report on Sexual Abuse

Unlike the report released in December 2019, the new document includes the full names of some of the priests who committed sexual abuse.

Legion of Christ logo.
Legion of Christ logo. (photo: Courtesy image)

WASHINGTON — The Legionaries of Christ presented a report Monday on their fight against the sexual abuse of minors by members of the congregation.

The Legion said in a statement that the March 22 report, “Truth, Justice, and Healing”, describes the steps taken in caring for the victims of sexual abuse and the development of safe environments in the ministries and institutions where they carry out their pastoral work.

Unlike the report released in December 2019, the new document includes the full names of some of the priests who committed sexual abuse.

In other abuse cases, the Legionaries of Christ indicate only the name or country of origin of the priest, along with a numerical code.

The cases in this new report have also been divided into the Legion’s territorial regions: Brazil, Chile, Colombia-Venezuela, Spain, the United States, Central Europe, Ireland, Italy, and Mexico.

The congregation founded by the late Fr. Marcial Maciel, who abused at least 60 minors himself, promised to continue to publish an annual report on the progress being made, updating the data, and providing accountability in addressing abuse.

Of the 170 known victims of 27 members of the Legionaries of Christ, the congregation said that to date "with approximately 50 of these victims, progress has been made on a pathway to reparation and reconciliation, seeking to facilitate this path for all victims who wish to do so.”

The vast majority of the victims were adolescent boys between the ages of 11 and 16.
The Legionaries stated that to provide healing for victims, they have “established a partnership with Eshmá, a professional and independent organization that cares for victims.”

Father Javier Cereceda, the territorial director of the Legionaries of Christ in Spain, expressed regret for “ those who have suffered abuse in our novitiate in Salamanca or in one of the two minor seminars we had in Spain, especially in Ontaneda (Cantabria). Your suffering pains us and we desire your healing.”

He also expressed his “firm determination to provide listening services and any steps leading to healing and reparation that are necessary.”

The international agency Praesidium, which certifies best practices in the prevention of abuse within organizations, has accredited the Legionaries’ territories of the United States and Spain.

In 2006 the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, with the approval of Pope Benedict XVI, removed Fr. Maciel from public ministry and ordered him to spend the rest of his life in prayer and penance. The congregation decided not to subject him to a canonical process because of his advanced age.

In 2010, Benedict appointed then-Archbishop Velasio de Paolis as the papal delegate to the Legion of Christ to oversee its reform. Pope Francis approved new constitutions for the troubled congregation in November 2014. The Legion is pursuing an ongoing reform process.