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Commitments for 2021

The advances outlined in the 2020 Annual Report are part of a work in progress. They are steps on a broader path in search of truth, justice, and healing for victims of sexual abuse of minors by members of our Congregation. Here are some of the issues that the Congregation will give priority to during the second year of implementing the commitments made at the last General Chapter:

  1. Strengthen an active and more systematic outreach to victims with whom there is yet no contact.
  2. Establish a separate program for financial reparation and support for victims of sexual abuse by priests of the Congregation.
  3. Conduct pending canonical proceedings as directed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, setting up the appropriate tribunals and ensuring the participation of external canonists as judges and assessors.
  4. Examine with external experts possible evidence of concealment or grave negligence in relation to historical cases of abuse.
  5. Conclude the external accreditation processes of our safe environment protocols that are underway in several territories.
  6. Expand collaboration with external institutions and experts, as well as establish forums for consultation with survivors of sexual abuse for the continuous improvement of the Congregation’s work in this area.
  7. Address the issue of abuse of authority and conscience, as noted by the General Chapter: “We ask the General Government to analyze this complex reality and to propose appropriate measures in view of pastoral formation, the prevention of any type of abuse and the healing of those affected.”

The Congregation will report on the most significant developments in a timely manner and provide an international summary in the next annual report.

2020 General Chapter

The study conducted in 2019 by the “Commission on cases of past cases of abuse of minors and attention to the persons involved” on the phenomenon of abuse in the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ from its foundation in 1941 to 2019 generated a series of proposals and recommendations that were presented during the 2020 General Chapter, the highest governing body of the Congregation. These proposals sought to further consolidate the Congregation´s commitment against the abuse of minors through international safe environment policies as well as comprehensive care of victims. The Commission noted in the historical study how necessary and successful the standards of prevention, response and supervision have been put into practice on an international level since 2015. Among the pending issues, it stated the need to examine where there might have been cover-up, negligence or omissions on behalf of those in government.

2020 General Chapter Declarations and Commitments

The General Chapter produced two new historical documents that gather the fruits of its reflections, decisions and commitments with regards to confronting the abuse of minors by members of the Congregation as well as the care of victims.

2014 General Chapter

From the 2014 Chapter Communiqué on government, authority and obedience: institutionalizing the formation of safe environments. “In his letter of December 5, 2013, the pro-director general informed the entire Congregation about the principles being followed by the general government in preventing abuse and in dealing with accusations (delicta graviora) brought against any Legionary. For their part, the territorial directors (provincials) also informed the General Chapter about the state of implementation of the “code of conduct” for Legionaries in dealing with minors, women or vulnerable adults, and about the procedures, adapted to the civil legislation of each country, to be followed when allegations are made against a religious or priest. We, the Chapter Fathers, have noted with satisfaction that the General Director and the territorial directors in recent years have made an effort to appoint people in charge and create commissions to urge local superiors and directors of apostolates to comply with the requirements of the civil codes or certifications in order to promote safe environments in our houses and apostolates. We ask the new government to continue the efforts undertaken and the progress made in this field, in order to protect as much as possible all the people with whom we work and to reduce risks as much as possible. We also ask the general director to establish, with the consent of his council, procedures and action criteria for the safe environment policy that all territories must comply with over the next six years. In territories where there is no independent organization that certifies the quality of the work for the prevention of abuse and for the handling of complaints and possible victims of abuse, the same General Directorate will act as an accrediting body and will offer advice to the territorial directors and safe environment coordinators in order to comply with all the requirements and procedures and action criteria.” You can find the full 2014 Chapter Communiqué document here.