LEGIONARIES OF CHRIST SHARE INFORMATION ABOUT ABUSE CASE INVOLVING FATHER WILLIAM IZQUIERDO, LC
In keeping with the Legionaries of Christ’s commitment to safe environments for all its members, Father Luis Garza, LC, North American territorial director of the Legionaries of Christ, informed its members of a sexual abuse case involving Father William Izquierdo, LC.
In July 2012, Father Garza was informed of an allegation regarding sexual abuse in the United States involving Father Izquierdo and a novice when the former served as novice instructor in Cheshire, CT. He held that position from 1982 to 1994.
In addition to reporting to local authorities, the Legion commissioned Praesidium to provide a thorough, independent investigation, which concluded in August 2013. Its findings were presented and carefully analyzed by the Legion’s North American review board in October 2013.
“After reviewing the information, we have no reason to doubt that sexual abuse with a minor actually occurred,” Father Garza said. The Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith has been informed of the case.
Further, Father Izquierdo was assigned to ministry and lived in Dublin, Ireland from 1962 – 1982 and committed sexual abuse of novices while there.
The Legionaries of Christ have apologized for the abuse and sought to aid victims.
Since the early 2000s, the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) and the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) have provided strong leadership in the vital goal of providing a safe environment for young people in all Church activities. The Legionaries of Christ, following their lead, has adopted policies and procedures aimed at protecting young people and eliminating abuse. The congregation is committed to investigating and responding appropriately to all allegations of misconduct, so that the tragedy of clergy sexual abuse may be overcome.
Over the past decade, the Legion has implemented a stringent program to maintain safe environments, including audits of its facilities, training of its members and adoption of a strict code of conduct. This case occurred many years ago, but Father Garza said he learned about it in 2012 and that it was handled with the openness and transparency demanded by current standards.
In 2013, when the case was originally communicated, Father Izquierdo’s health had been very poor for some time. He was 85, and was in an advanced state of dementia and had declined greatly. He had not exercised ministry since 2008. He died in 2015.
“As territorial director, I want to express my deep sorrow for the suffering endured by anyone as a result of Father Izquierdo’s actions,” Father Garza said. “My prayers are with them as well as our every effort to provide healing for the psychological and spiritual wounds endured. As painful as this revelation is, I feel it is a necessary step in the healing process and in the protection of those under our care and guidance.”
“Despite his health and diminishing cognitive capacities (in 2013 when this was originally communicated), I believe it is necessary to inform you, my brother priests and religious, about this case. First, because we place a high moral value on ensuring any victim knows that he will be listened to and cared for with compassion. Second, we believe that this may also provide relief to others who might have suffered similarly and will allow them to come forward.”
Father Garza concluded: “I want to again emphasize to our members, their parents and families that the Legionaries of Christ are totally committed to providing safe environments in its schools, seminaries and youth activities. Please keep everyone involved in your prayers, asking for God’s gifts of healing and strength.”
If anyone has further information regarding misconduct by Father Izquierdo in the United States, please contact Kristin Austin, LCSW-C, CCTP.
If anyone has further information about this case or others that involve Legionaries, they may contact:
Kristin Austin, LCSW-C, CCTP, Pastoral Care Advocate
Phone: (443) 788-9730
Nikki Hittle, MSW, Safe Environment Coordinator
Phone: (770) 802-0058
Address: 30 Mansell Court, Suite 103, Roswell, GA, 30076
*Update: March 22, 2021
Visit the Legionaries of Christ Safe Environment Page for More Information