January 24, 2020
An update regarding cases from the Report 1941 – 2019, on the history of sexual abuse in the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ since its foundation, released by the Congregation in 2019.
The Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ releases the following statement concerning Father Antonio Rodríguez Sánchez, LC:
Father Antonio Rodríguez Sánchez, LC, was born in 1954 and was ordained a priest in 1983.
The Congregation’s 2019 investigation into past cases of abuse discovered various indications of possible sexual abuse of minors by Father Rodríguez when he was the rector of the minor seminary in El Ajusco, Mexico, between 1983 – 1988. The major superiors of the Legionaries of Christ decided to initiate a formal preliminary investigation according to canon law (can. 1717) and according to the Congregation’s safe environment processes and procedures. Since September 2019 he has been restricted from public priestly ministry and has had no contact with minors. On November 5, 2019, the major superiors submitted the results of the preliminary investigation to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which decided to initiate a canonical process. Meanwhile Father Rodriguez will continue to be restricted from any public ministry and will reside in a house owned by the Congregation in Spain. At this time, no further accusations have been received from any other time period that he was in active ministry.
From a civil law perspective, even though Mexican legislation in force at the time (1983 – 1988) and the corresponding statute of limitations are being applied, the Congregation seeks a way to press charges and will collaborate with authorities that decide to prosecute the case.
During these last months, the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ has reached out to some of the victims to listen to their stories first-hand, to offer them support, and to apologize on behalf of Father Rodríguez who is repentant and ready to face the consequences of his actions before the competent authorities. Regarding the other victims, although Father Rodríguez has provided the names of minor seminarians that he recalls were affected, the Congregation has not yet established contact with all of them to offer support.
This case was already included as one of the priests who received between six and ten credible abuse allegations in the Report 1941 – 2019 that the Legionaries of Christ released publicly regarding the history of sexual abuse in the Congregation since its foundation.
Fr. Antonio Rodriguez, LC, was assigned to ministry in the United States and was part of the Cheshire, Connecticut, community from 1991 – 2009. During this time, he served as prefect of studies, confessor, spiritual director, and a professor at the Legionaries of Christ Novitiate and College of Humanities. He was also prefect of studies at Thornwood (a former school of philosophy operated by the Legionaries of Christ in New York) from 1997 – 1998 and a professor at Thornwood in 2000. During his time in the North American Territory he would have engaged in pastoral ministry with adults and families, particularly in Syracuse, New York.
At this time we have not received any reports of sexual misconduct or abuse by Fr. Antonio Rodriguez, LC, from his time in ministry in the North American Territory.
The Legionaries of Christ issue the following statement regarding José María Sabín Sabín, former priest of the Congregation:
José María Sabín Sabín was born in 1958 and ordained to the priesthood as a Legionary of Christ in 1987. He never exercised ministry in the North American Territory. He was rector of the minor seminary of El Ajusco, Mexico, from 1988 – 1992, and rector of the University of Mayab in Merida, Mexico, from 1995 – 2012. He abandoned the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ and the priesthood in February 2015.
The Congregation’s 2019 review of historical cases of abuse discovered and verified credible accusations of sexual abuse of minors while Sabín was rector of the minor seminary, from 1988 – 1992.
From a civil law perspective, even though Mexican legislation in force at the time (1988 – 1992) and the corresponding statute of limitations are being applied, the Congregation seeks a way to press charges and will collaborate with authorities that decide to prosecute the case.
From a canon law perspective, José María Sabín Sabín decided to petition the Holy See to abandon the priestly ministry and the Congregation. The petition was granted in 2015.
The Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ has been in contact with two of the victims in order to provide means for reparation and healing. Although José María Sabín Sabín is now no longer under the authority of the Congregation, the Legionaries of Christ are working on reaching out to affected persons.
The Report 1941 – 2019 on the history of sexual abuse in the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ since its foundation reported the case of José María Sabín Sabín as one of the Legionary of Christ priests with two to five credible accusations of abuse.
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 victims’ assistance coordinator for the United States, Abby Saunders. If anyone has a question about safe environment policies or a complaint regarding misconduct or sexual abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult by a Legionary, contact Abby Saunders at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (678) 467-9348. The Congregation has also established a channel for listening to concerns and responding to accusations at 0abuse.org. The Congregation has also established a channel for listening to concerns and responding to accusations at 0abuse.org.
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