Regnum Christi | Legionaries of Christ

Legionaries of Christ offer update in their 2020 Annual Report: ‘Truth, Justice, and Healing’

  • The Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ has published the 2020 Annual Report: Truth, Justice and Healing, on the steps taken to care for victims and the development of safe environment.
  • The Annual Report provides an account of the commitments made by the 2020 General Chapter and the current general director. Addressed primarily to victims, it presents the Congregation’s partnership with Eshmá, an independent professional organization specialized in the care for victims of sexual abuse, abuse of power and abuse of conscience in the Catholic Church.
  • The Report also puts forth the reasons why the Legion has published by name or with a numerical code each of the cases of those priests of the Congregation who committed abuse of minors. This Report follows up on the statistics already published by the Legionaries of Christ in 2019 and outlines the next steps to be taken.

The path of renewal that the Legionaries of Christ have been traveling on for the past ten years is moving one step further in victim response and the development of safe environment programs. In 2019, they published a historical statistics report on all abuse cases since their foundation, and at the 2020 General Chapter they issued two documents, Conversion & Reparation and Protect & Heal, with their commitments and norms in the care for victims and prevention of abuse. One year later, determined to continue this path to help victims heal, prevent future abuse, and for the ongoing purification of the Congregation the Legionaries of Christ have published the 2020 Annual Report: Truth, Justice, and Healing.

Independent and professional channel for victim support founded by victims

Throughout 2020, aware that “sexual abuse against minors is one of the traumatic realities that most intensely and profoundly affects human beings,” and that “the healing process, often long and difficult, requires proper accompaniment,” the Legionaries of Christ have established a partnership with Eshmá, a professional and independent organization that cares for victims. Eshmá was founded by people who have experienced firsthand the victimization of child sexual abuse, as well as by therapists, social workers and lawyers who are experts in restorative justice. It has already begun to attend to some who were victims of members of the Congregation in different countries and has programs such as an ongoing initial point of contact for receiving and listening to concerns; a space for therapeutic accompaniment to heal the aftermath of abuse; a safe and independent channel for those who wish to report an abuse by a member of the Congregation; social guidance and legal assistance on the process of reporting an abuse and criminal procedures; and restorative encounters to achieve truth, justice, and reparation.

Economic reparation and support program for victims

During the year 2020, the Legionaries of Christ continued to provide financial and therapeutic assistance to a number of victims, wishing to ease in some way the suffering caused by the abuses committed by members of the congregation and to facilitate everything that a path to healing implies. To prepare for the creation of a systematic and independent program for reparation and victim support, the Legionaries of Christ carried out a study of international best practices.

Publication of past cases with names or numerical codes

The Congregation has reviewed each of the cases that were published statistically in the 1941-2019 Report. Based on this review, and seeking the good of those who have suffered abuse, the major superiors of the Legionaries of Christ have decided to publish each case of those priests of the Congregation who committed abuse against a person under 18 years of age in one of three ways: using their first and last name, their first name only, or a numerical code.

The Report sets out the reasons for the publications of each case, in conformity with the law of the different countries in which the publication is being made. It explains the good it does for the victims, their families, the congregation, society, and the perpetrators themselves. Among other reasons for this choice, it asserts that the publication of abuse cases offers both known and unknown victims “the objective acknowledgment of the abuse that can facilitate the healing process for victims,” “contributes to restoring justice and making reparation when a victim has not been adequately attended to or has even been slandered,” and “encourages other potential victims to come forward and receive support, if they so wish, helping them more easily overcome the natural difficulty that reporting such an allegation may present.”

Culture of protection and care for children: safe environment

In terms of safe environment programs, the Legionaries of Christ renewed its policies in 2020 according to the international standards set by the external agency Praesidium. The number of lay professionals that have been hired has grown, and training and awareness sessions on the reality of sexual abuse have been developed in collaboration with victims of abuse who have walked these paths of healing. Safe environment programs are accredited here in the North American territory and in other territories if they are not yet accredited they are in the process of being accredited according to official criteria established by an external organization in all countries where the Congregation is present.

Next steps

The Congregation is aware that there is still a long way to go and is committed to publishing an annual report on the steps taken, updating the data, and giving an account of its commitments. The priorities for 2021 are: strengthening professional and systematic care and channels for listening to victims; establishing an independent program for financial reparation for victims; examining possible cases of cover-ups and gross negligence; concluding independent accreditation processes in all territories; tackling the issue of abuse of authority and abuse of conscience.

Statistics

The Appendix of the 2020 Annual Report presents the updated statistics on abuse cases in the Congregation. Overall, the total number of Legionary of Christ priests known to have committed sexual abuse is 27. This represents 2% of the 1,380 Legionaries of Christ ordained to the priesthood throughout the history of the Congregation. Also mentioned are the five cases of Legionaries who abused while they were seminarians and were ordained priests in the Congregation. The priests who committed abuse and who remain in the Congregation do not have public priestly ministry, except for one who has restricted ministry (excluding ministry with minors) while a review of his case is ongoing. The 2020 updated statistics can be found at 0abuse.org.

 

MEDIA INQUIRIES:

North American Territorial Communications Office of the Legionaries of Christ

(United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Philippines and Korea)

Gail Gore
Director of Communications
+ 1 (414) 343-6886
 ggore@arcol.org