0 Abuse

Toward a Culture of
0ABUSE in the Congregation
of the Legionaries of Christ


Cardinal Velasio de Paolis creates the Comission for outreach to victims of Marcial Maciel
Highlights the need to reach out to victims and seek reconciliation and communicates about the founders. Work begins on the prevention of abuses and in dealing with accusations.
Safe Environment standards take effect
Regnum Christi Statutes take effect

General Chapter
1941 - 2019
of the Legionaries of Christ on sexual abuse from its foundation to the present
Chapter Document
"Conversion and Reparation"
Chapter Document "Protect and Heal"
2020 Annual Report Truth, Justice and Healing,
2021 Annual Report Truth, Justice and Healing,
2022 Annual Report Truth, Justice and Healing,
December 21, 2019
February 2020
February 2020
March 2021
March 2022
April 2023
Annual Report
Truth, Justice
and Healing,
March 2024


Cardinal Velasio de Paolis creates the Comission for outreach to victims of Marcial Maciel
2014 General Chapter
Highlights the need to reach out to victims and seek reconciliation and communicates about the founders. Work begins on the prevention of abuses and in dealing with accusations.
Safe Environment standards take effect
2019 September
Regnum Christi Statutes take effect
2019 December
Report 1941 - 2019 of the Legionaries of Christ on sexual abuse from its oundation to the present December 21, 2019
2020 February 26
Chapter Document "Conversion and Reparation"
2020 February 26
Chapter Document "Protect and Heal"
March 2021
2020 I Annual Report Truth, Justice and Healing,
April 2022
2021 II Annual Report Truth, Justice and Healing,
March 2023
2022 III Annual Report Truth, Justice and Healing,
March 2024
2023 IV Annual Report Truth, Justice and Healing,

Global statistics on Abuse Cases 1941-2024

The following global statistics present the cases of sexual abuse of minors by Legion of Christ priests from the founding of the Congregation in 1941 to March 21, 2024. These are not statistical projections, but verified cases.

1. Historical overview

There are 28 cases on record by admission, a civil trial, a canonical proceeding endorsed by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith or a declaration of the competent major superior. Of these priests, 15 remain in the Congregation (one of whom has been removed from the clerical state). All of these cases were presented to the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith and were dealt with according to the indications received. Six have died and seven have left the priesthood and the Congregation. Of the 15 who remain in the Congregation, 12 have no public priestly ministry; three have restricted ministry that excludes ministry with minors (schools, youth groups, etc.).

  • Civilly, of these 28 priests, five died without being tried, three have been convicted in civil criminal courts. The others, so far, have not been prosecuted for various reasons, such as the legal situation in the different countries or the statute of limitations.
  • Canonically, of the 28 priests, two died without being tried or sanctioned, 25 were sanctioned and one received a dispensation from priestly ministry. For eight of these priests, the Holy See was asked to consider lifting the statute of limitations so that they could be tried.

Therefore, the total number of Legionary of Christ priests known to have committed sexual abuse against a person under 18 years of age is 28. This represents 1.8% of the 1,479 Legionaries of Christ ordained priests throughout the history of the Congregation.

2. Pathways to reconciliation with victims

2.1 Outreach to victims by the Congregation

The Congregation is committed to seek paths of truth, justice and healing for each victim, respecting the times and the particular situation, even if the cases are legally prescribed, aware that the pain of the victims does not prescribe.

  • There are about 170 minors, of which we are aware, who were victims of sexual abuse committed by these 28 priests.
  • The vast majority of the victims were adolescent boys between the ages of 11 and 16.
  • With more than 60 of these victims of priests of the Congregation, progress has been made on a path of reparation and reconciliation, seeking to facilitate this path for the victims who wish to do so.

The institutional channel for bringing forward allegations can be found here: https://www.0abusos.org/ambientes-seguros/

2.2 An independent channel to listen to, receive, and assist victims

In order to offer victims an appropriate welcome and accompaniment, the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ established in 2020 a stable international collaboration with Eshma, an external and independent institution founded by people who have experienced first-hand the victimization process of child sexual abuse and by therapists, social workers and jurists who are experts in restorative justice. It specializes in serving victims of sexual, power and conscience abuse in the Catholic Church and serves several institutions. The Congregation collaborates with Eshma and other independent reporting channels where it is present.

At the time of publishing this report (March 21, 2024), Eshma is serving 49 victims of members of the Congregation.

  • 33 persons reported sexual abuse suffered as minors and 3 as adults.
  • 13 reported abuses of power and conscience when they were of legal age. Four of them denounced that there were behaviors in their case that, due to the situation of vulnerability in which the person was, could be qualified as sexual abuse.

The identity of the persons and the information about the abuses they have suffered are shared with the Congregation only if the victims so desire.

The independent international channel for care for victims and bringing forward allegations is Eshmá:
Webpage: eshma.eus
E-mail: escuchamos@eshma.eus
Phone / WhatsApp / Telegram: +34 615 26 36 99

3. Ongoing follow-up of allegations received since December 2019

Since the historical investigation and the publication of the results in the Report 1941-2019, the Congregation has received complaints for 15 new cases, of which:

  • In seven cases, sexual abuse against a minor could not be established.
  • Two were removed from the Congregation and from the clerical state.
  • Two are awaiting the conclusion of both a civil and canonical process.
  • Three are under canonical investigation prior to an eventual canonical process.
  • One is under investigation by civil authorities.

In addition, new indications, denunciations and formal statements have been received within the canonical procedures on cases of priests that had already been published in the various reports in relation to events of past decades.

Furthermore, a previous case mentioned in the 1941-2019 Report is awaiting the results of a police investigation.

4. Global Statistics of Abuse of Minors by Seminarians of the Congregation.

Of the 74 legionaries that the 1941-2019 Report identified as Legionaries who allegedly abused as novices or religious in formation, 60 (81.08%) did not go on to be ordained priests in the Congregation. It has been confirmed during the last four years that there are six cases of Legionaries who abused as seminarians and were ordained priests. Of these cases, one of the members is deceased, one is without public priestly ministry, two have restricted ministry that excludes ministry with minors (schools, youth groups, etc.) and three have left the priesthood. Two of these six have also abused while they were priests. In addition, there is one case that is still under investigation.

Abuse cases

United States
Central Europe

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 published in 2021 the account of every case of sexual abuse against minors that has occurred throughout the history of the Congregation in the countries that today form part of their respective Territories.

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.

Criteria for limited reinsertion of priests into pastoral ministry

In the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ’s own norms, reinsertion into pastoral ministry is excluded «for any priest who is canonically declared guilty of having committed sexual abuse of a minor or vulnerable person» (Protect and Heal, 48). Therefore, limited reinsertion in the exercise of some priestly ministry can only be considered for someone who was not found guilty in an administrative or judicial process, that is, only for someone whose case was dealt with by measures of fraternal correction, reprimand or other means of pastoral solicitude according to c. 1341 of the Code of Canon Law (CIC) or with a penal precept (cf. c. 1319 CIC), having always observed the indications of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF).

The reinsertion into limited pastoral ministry of a priest who in the past has committed sexual abuse against a minor is a very grave responsibility, both for the Congregation and for the priest in question. The necessary conditions must be ensured so that the priest can carry out his service for the good of the people and, at the same time, the risks of harm must be avoided as far as humanly possible, and guarantees must be offered so that no further abuse will occur.

Considering this requirement, the General Director of the Legionaries of Christ, having consulted widely and having heard the opinion of his council, has established the following criteria for a possible reinsertion.

Concerning the priest in question:

  • The possibility of reintegration into pastoral service is not considered in the case of a priest canonically found guilty of having committed abuse or who is known – by canonical process, by admission or by disciplinary measures endorsed by the DDF – to have committed serial abuse, with multiple victims or of extreme gravity.
  • For those exceptional cases in which it is possible to consider a reintegration, the priest must:
  1. have agreed to follow a path of restorative justice, which entails acknowledging and taking responsibility for the harm caused, a willingness to make reparation to the victim and to seek true reconciliation with the victim and his family, as well as with others affected by the scandal; the path of restorative justice also involves facing possible civil or criminal consequences for his actions;
  2. to have followed a path of sincere repentance, conversion and reparation;
  3. to have a professional diagnosis that excludes that it is a structural problem;
  4. to have completed a therapeutic path that has led him to understand how he could have had these behaviors and also to identify and overcome the remote causes;
  5. to have a positive prognosis from an expert who has evaluated him on his reintegration into pastoral activity with the appropriate restrictions;
  6. to have confirmed and consolidated this positive prognosis within a prudential period established by the major superior, during which he will be able to collaborate in community and internal tasks and, if necessary, in some specific, appropriate and supervised ministerial assignments;
  7. to be able to communicate clearly to those who have religious or apostolic responsibility for him, the acts he has committed and the path he has followed, and to collaborate with the required communication to those who will receive his ministerial service;
  8.  to accept and comply with the restrictions for pastoral ministry with minors and, eventually, other restrictions (e.g., use of social networks, schedules, etc.), also to avoid the re-victimization of affected persons.
  9. In turn, the priest should be monitored and accompanied by the superior of the community, some members of the community, those responsible for his apostolate and the persons who work together with him or are appointed to observe his performance, who should have a sufficiently detailed knowledge of the case and of the restrictions and measures established.

In relation to the areas of work:

  1. Pastoral work with minors and vulnerable persons is excluded as well as other areas of work depending on the type of abuse committed and the result of the psychological evaluation;
  2. excluding houses of formation of the Congregation (cf. Protect and Heal, 49);
  3. places with a particular risk of scandal should be excluded;
  4. a stable, clearly defined and supervised environment should be sought for and provided;
  5. the group or community in which he ordinarily exercises some pastoral ministry should know his situation and be in agreement with it; they should be aware of the restrictions he has and, generically, the reasons for these restrictions;
  6. in any ministry, the priest should avoid the use of social networks and publications of any kind.

The eventual exercise of a restricted ministry, if authorized according to the above criteria, must be mentioned in the priest’s security plan. This plan, which is established for life for each priest who has committed abuse, comprehensively covers the various dimensions of his life and has an initial review and periodic (at least annual) evaluation and adjustments by the Territorial Review Committee, according to the Safe Environment Accreditation Standards (Accreditation Standards, Standard 19).

In addition, reintegration into pastoral ministry should consider adequate prior communication with the victim.

Reparation program

This fourth installment presents the work developed in the year 2023 related to the attention to victims, the implementation of the Reparation and Support Program, the follow-up of canonical procedures, aspects related to cover-ups, accreditation processes, the strengthening of collaboration with external institutions and experts, abuses of authority and conscience and the commitments we acquired for the coming years, are part of the general structure of the report, following the line of work and publication of the years 2021, 2022 and 2023.

When a person comes into contact with one of the institutional whistleblowing channels or with an independent channel, these channels welcome them, accompany them and inform them of the possible steps they can take. In addition to the complaint and proceedings before the civil and Church authorities, assistance is offered according to the reparation program. Thus, the person affected by abuse is helped to narrate his or her experience, to opt for therapy if he or she wishes, and to express his or her needs, including financial reparation. As far as possible, financial reparation will take place in a broader process of restorative justice that seeks to contribute to the integral healing of the victim.

The implementation of the «Reparation and Support Program» in the hope of offering some consolation and alleviating in a more comprehensive way the mark left by the abuse suffered. Our commitment to the victims is and will continue to be one of our priorities, and that is why since 2010 we have offered reparation and support to 49 victims. Of that total, 17 people were served under the «Reparation and Support Program», in operation since 2022. Compared to the previous report, six more victims have been assisted. We hope that this program will continue to have the reception that is required, as it is available to all territories, which will help us not only as a guide, but also to reach out to all people who have suffered harm from sexual abuse. We continue to work to have more tools to deal with complaints and victims, either through our own programs or independent channels.

Finally, eight of the ten canonical proceedings opened in March 2023 have been concluded. Three new procedures have been initiated and are still underway, always according to the indications of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Last update: April 19, 2023

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