The Legionaries of Christ in the North American Territory release the below communications from Italy, originally published in Spanish in 2018, 2019 and 2020, regarding the case of Vladimir Reséndiz Gutiérrez, who studied as a philosopher in Thornwood, New York from October 1997 – June 1998 and October 2002 – July 2003.
Italy, November 16, 2018
The Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ release the following communication regarding the case of Vladimir Reséndiz Gutiérrez, former member of the Congregation:
1. Vladimir Reséndiz Gutiérrez, a Mexican citizen, entered the novitiate of the Congregation on September 14, 1993. He made his perpetual vows in 2001 and was ordained to the priesthood in 2006.
2. The first accusation of sexual abuse against Vladimir Reséndiz was received by a priest of the Congregation on March 6, 2011. The accusation referred to events which occurred between 2006 and 2008 at the minor seminary of the Congregation in Gozzano, Novara, Italy. Reséndiz was in Venezuela when the accusation was received.
- 2.1. On March 8, 2011, the news of this accusation reached the General Directorate of the Congregation.
- 2.2. On March 10, 2011, Vladimir Reséndiz was removed from his ministry in the minor seminary in Venezuela and from pastoral work with minors.
- 2.3. On March 18, 2011, he was removed from all active priestly ministry after being questioned by his religious superior. He admitted to also abusing another minor outside of Italy. (1)
- 2.4. On June 27, 2011, after collecting the necessary information, the Legionaries of Christ presented the case of Vladimir Reséndiz to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
3. In April 2013, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith removed Vladimir Reséndiz from the clerical state, and from that moment he ceased to be a member of the Legionaries of Christ.
4. There are currently two criminal trials in the courts of Novara, Italy. The trials have not yet reached a verdict.
- 4.1. A criminal trial against Vladimir Reséndiz for child abuse.
- 4.2. Another trial against several members of the Congregation, and other individuals, for attempted extortion against the family of one of the minors, in which the accused have pleaded not guilty.Once a verdict is issued by the court, an update to this communique will be issued.
5. The Congregation apologizes to those who have suffered abuse and for all the pain caused, knowing that this request for forgiveness will never be enough to heal the deep wounds caused. We recognize that any abuse by a cleric causes great pain to those who have suffered, to their family and also to the Church.
6. Aware of our responsibility as part of the Church and of our institutional history, we firmly commit to continue implementing our safe environment policy against the sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults who have contact with people involved in our apostolic, educational and pastoral activities. For this reason we also take responsibility for accompanying our seminarians in a mature discernment during their formation process that ensures, as far as possible, they live faithfully to their vocation as Catholic priests.
(1) Update March 19th 2021
UPDATE: On March 27, 2019, in a criminal trial of Vladimir Reséndiz Gutiérrez, the judge of the preliminary hearing in Novara, Italy, convicted him in the first degree with a sentence of seven years in prison and payment of reparations. The court has 90 days to publish the sentence.
UPDATE: On January 8, 2020, in the criminal trial of Vladimir Reséndiz Gutiérrez, the Second Chamber of the Court of Appeals of Turin, Italy, confirmed the sentence given in March 2019 in the first trial and reduced the penalty to six years and six months in jail. The trial is not over yet.
UPDATE: On July 23, 2020, on July 23, 2020, the Supreme Court declared inadmissible the appeal filed against the judgement by Second Chamber of the court of appeals. Therefore, the sentence has acquired the force of res iudicata and the criminal judicial process has concluded.
(2) Update October 3rd, 2022
The Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ reports on the conclusion of a process before the Ordinary Court of Milan, Italy involving three priests of the Congregation and two other people.
All of the defendants have been fully acquitted (“con formula piena”) of the crime of attempted extortion because such an attempt did not occur (“il fatto non sussiste”).
(3) Update October 5th, 2022
Regarding the accusation of aiding and abetting (“favoreggiamento”), one defendant has been acquitted for not having committed the offense (“per non aver commesso il fatto”). Additionally, the judge declared that they could not proceed (“non doversi proceede”) in relation to the other four defendants because the statute of limitations (“per intervenutta prescrizione”) had elapsed.
The judge will announce the reasons for the decision within 90 days. The accusations arose in 2013 in the context of a relationship with a family who had denounced the abuse committed by Vladimir Reséndiz Gutiérrez.
We encourage anyone who has been abused by a member of the Legionaries of Christ to contact the appropriate authorities, regardless of when the alleged abuse occurred, and to contact the Legionaries of Christ’s pastoral care advocate for the United States, Abby Saunders.
Abby Saunders, Pastoral Care Advocate
Phone: (678) 467-9348
The Congregation has also established a channel for listening to concerns and responding to accusations at 0abuse.org.
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