Toward a Culture of
in the Congregation
of the Legionaries of Christ
Toward a Culture of Zero Abuse
2014 General Chapter
Statistics on Abuse Cases 1941-2020
The following statistics present cases of sexual abuse of minors by Legionary of Christ priests, updated on March 22, 2021.
They have reviewed and updated the information from the 1941-2019 Report and are derived from the progress of cases in state or ecclesiastical courts, from new information received after the publication of the 1941-2019 Report, and from the application of the new requirements set forth in Protect and Heal to each case.
1. Global Statistics of Abuse of Minors by Seminarians of the Congregation – 2020 Update
In reviewing and studying again, during the year 2020, the 33 cases of priests of the Congregation that had been initially identified and subsequently reflected in the 1941-2019 Report, the following conclusions have been reached:
- In two of the cases, it could not be confirmed that the case involved sexual abuse of someone who was a minor.
- In one of the cases, concerning a deceased priest, the person who had reported it at the time clarified, after the publication of the 1941-2019 Report, that it was not a case of sexual abuse.
- There are three cases whose investigation has not been concluded. None of the individuals are members of the Congregation. One is under police investigation, the other two—one living and one deceased—are under internal verification.
- The remaining 27 cases have been confirmed in at least one of the following ways: admission of guilt, a civil trial, a canonical proceeding authenticated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, or a declaration by the competent major superior. Of these priests, 16 are still in the Congregation (one of whom has been removed from the clerical state), four are deceased, six have left the priesthood and the Congregation, one has left the Congregation.
- Of the 16 who remain in the Congregation, 15 do not have public priestly ministry; one has restricted ministry which excludes ministry with minors (schools, youth groups, etc.).
2. New Allegations after the 1941-2019 Report
In 2020, 7 new allegations of sexual abuse of minors have emerged regarding priests not included in the 1941-2019 Report. These allegations refer to alleged events that occurred between 1970 and 2020.
- One of the cases, involving a deceased priest, could not be substantiated due to lack of information and the investigation was closed.
- Another allegation was investigated by an external professional third-party, the outcome of which, in turn, was examined by a review board. The allegations were not substantiated.
- Four allegations are still undergoing a canonical preliminary investigation. Civil law is also being observed.
- One priest is awaiting instructions from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith regarding a possible canonical process. He does not exercise public priestly ministry.
Therefore, as of March 22, 2021, the total number of Legionary of Christ to have committed sexual abuse of minors is 27. This represents 2% of the 1,380 Legionaries of Christ ordained as priests throughout the history of the Congregation.
3. Known Victims
- There are about 170 minors, that we are aware of, who were victims of sexual abuse committed by these 27 priests.
- The vast majority of the victims were adolescent boys between the ages of 11 and 16.
- 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.
 This number includes the approximately 60 minors known to have been abused by Father Marcial Maciel.
4. Legal Case Status (Canonical and Civil)
- Civilly, of the 27 priests, three died without being tried, two have been convicted in criminal courts. The others, so far, have not been prosecuted for various reasons, such as the legal situation in the respective countries or because the statute of limitations has elapsed.
- Canonically, of the 27 priests, two died without being tried, 16 were sanctioned, eight are currently undergoing proceedings, one received a dispensation from ministry without trial. The Congregation’s authorities asked the Holy See to consider lifting the statute of limitations on eight of these cases so that they can be tried.
- Regarding the 16 priests who committed abuse and remain in the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ, their cases were all submitted to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
5. Global Statistics of Abuse of Minors by Seminarians of the Congregation When Applying the Criteria in Protect and Heal.
Sixty of the 74 Legionaries (81.08%) that the 1941-2019 Report identified as allegedly abusing minors when they were novices or religious in formation were not ordained as priests in the Congregation. During 2020, the 14 cases that did reach the priesthood were further studied according to the criteria of Protect and Heal and the following conclusions were reached:
- In the case of one priest, now deceased, the person who reported the allegation clarified after the 1941-2019 Report was published that it was not sexual abuse.
- In three of the cases, which the 1941-2019 Report noted as “under investigation,” the respective review boards concluded that they were boundary violations and not sexual abuse.
- Three cases remain under investigation.
- The remaining seven cases have been confirmed. Of these cases, one member is deceased, two are without public priestly ministry, one is not under the jurisdiction of the Congregation and three have left the priesthood. Two of these seven have also abused after ordination.
Cf. Protect and Heal, Appendices: “Boundary violation (in relations with another person): occurs when a person exceeds the acceptable limits in a relationship with another person. It can happen inadvertently or consciously. The other person may not initially interpret it as inappropriate. It may also be the result of recklessness. This is not necessarily a morally wrong act or a crime.”
Last update: 8:45pm (Rome time) March 22nd, 2021.
In addition to the steps already taken and those yet to come, publishing cases of Legionaries who committed abuse is a commitment that seeks to contribute to paving a way toward truth, justice, and healing for victims, as well as solidifying a culture of zero abuse in the Congregation and in society.
The territorial directors have published a list of cases of sexual abuse of minors that occurred throughout the history of the Congregation in the countries that today compose their respective territories. Some of the published cases are of priests who are still living, some, however, are deceased, and some are no longer members of the Congregation. The territorial directors published the cases in one of three ways: using first and last name, using first name only, or using a numerical code. This information will be updated periodically according to the criteria explained below.
The Main Reasons for Publication
Whether publishing the names of those who have abused minors is legitimate and appropriate is widely debated in society and in the Church. Both legal and ethical arguments come into play, leading to a great diversity of legitimate positions. In applying the criteria established by the 2020 General Chapter to the publication of cases, the superiors of the Congregation considered several factors: the good of the persons who suffered abuse, the reform of those who committed abuse, the good of the Church and of society, all while observing applicable civil laws.
The main reasons for publishing are listed below, aware that they do not apply in the same way in all cases.
For the sake of known and unknown victims, publication may have the following effects:
- As an objective acknowledgement of the abuse, it can facilitate the healing process for victims.
- It contributes to restoring justice and making reparation when a victim has not been adequately attended to or has even been slandered.
- It encourages other potential victims to come forward and receive support, if they so wish, helping them overcome more easily the natural difficulty reporting such an allegation may present.
- It makes clear that the priest in question no longer exercises any public priestly ministry, relieving victims of the concern that he could abuse again.
For the sake of the reform of the priest who abused, publication may have the following effects:
- It can help him become more aware of what he has done, encouraging him to repent and amend his ways.
- It facilitates his collaboration in reparation efforts and restorative encounters.
- It helps him comply with the sanctions and restrictions imposed on him.
For the good of society and the people whom the Congregation serves pastorally, the publication of cases of abuse may have the following effects:
- It underlines our strong repulsion for any abusive behavior.
- It raises awareness of abuse in general, but also in specific situations, preventing the risk of further abuse.
- It helps the Congregation fulfill its duty to protect the minors under its care, and youth in general.
- It informs society about the priests found guilty of abuse and who no longer have public ministry.
- It prevents the scandal of holding up as an example a priest known to the Congregation as having committed abuse.
- It contributes to healing the societal wounds caused by institutional behavior and to creating dynamics in society that foster a culture of care and protection of minors.
For the good of the members of the Congregation, the publication may have the following effects:
- It contributes to living in truth and acting in a manner consistent with the commitments the Congregation made at the 2020 General Chapter, addressing and healing the personal and structural wounds the abuse caused.
- It provides clear information necessary for assuming personal and institutional responsibility in this area.
- It avoids suspicions about members of the Congregation who have not committed abuse or have been wrongly accused..
Different Forms of Publication
Over the course of the 2020 calendar year, the General Directorate’s Interdepartmental Commission developed a policy for fair transparency and communication. The policy seeks to apply the criteria outlined in numbers 27 to 29 of Protect and Heal, and it establishes three forms for publishing cases of abuse committed by current and former Legionary priests. The policy’s primary aim is to enable the attainment of the goals indicated in the previous section, while respecting the legal requirements of each country.
The different forms are as follows:
Publication Using First and Last Name
Full names are employed for cases that occurred in countries that allow it or for cases that are already public.
Publication Using First Name Only
Only the first name is employed for cases involving those who have left the Congregation, since they are no longer under the responsibility of the Congregation and most of them do not exercise priestly ministry, and for those in which civil law does not allow the publication of surnames or abbreviations of surnames.
Publication Using a Numerical Code
Cases of priests have been published with a numerical code in the following circumstances:
1º When it is appropriate to take into account a victim’s reasoned request not to publish the priest’s name, because it could condition the healing process or the victim’s privacy.
2º When an applicable civil law explicitly prohibits the publication of someone’s name.
3º When a canonical or civil process is still in progress, since the right to the presumption of innocence prevails until guilt is established.
4º When the ends sought by publishing a priest’s name—namely, the victim’s healing, the restoration of justice, the reparation of scandal, the amendment of the abusing priest, and the prevention of future abuse—are met by other means. This only applies to cases typified by legislation as of minor gravity, when there is one known victim, and there are no well-founded indications that there might be others.
In cases under preliminary investigation (cf. canon 1717 of the Code of Canon Law), in principle, the name of the accused is not published beyond the requirements of the investigation itself.