Over the past few years, in several countries, the
major superiors of the Legion of Christ have received
some allegations of gravely immoral acts and more serious offenses
(delicta graviora) committed by some Legionaries.
The Legion of Christ
is firmly committed to receive and examine all accusations
presented, reaching out to possible victims and always safeguarding
the rights of all those involved.
When a territorial director or
the general director receives an allegation of this nature,
or when there are well-founded suspicions, the civil laws
of the country are observed. If civil authorities allow
it, a preliminary internal investigation is also carried out
for each case (cf. canon 1717 §1). In the U.S.,
when an allegation involves a minor, the policies established
by Praesidium, Inc., an independent accreditation entity, are followed.
(http://www.praesidiuminc.com <http://www.praesidiuminc.com> )
If the investigation concludes
that the accusation has a semblance of truth and a
delictum graviorum is involved, in accordance with the current
canonical norms, the case is referred to the Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) for it to
direct the superior in how to proceed. (cf. http://www.vatican.va/resources/resources_guide-CDF-procedures_en.html)
Of the accusations received by major superiors in the
years since cases referring to the abuse of minors by
priests were assigned to the competency of the CDF,
internal preliminary investigations concluded that seven had a semblance
of truth; the Legion forwarded these cases to the
CDF. Only one case of abuse of minors by a
priest refers to recent events; the others are from
Two other formal allegations not classified as delicta
graviora have also been presented to the CDF.
Furthermore, there have
been some accusations of delicta graviora allegedly committed by
Legionaries who, after the requisite investigation (canonical or civil),
have been declared innocent.
During investigations carried out by civil
authorities (where this is the case), or during canonical
investigations, and while the case is under study by the
CDF, the territorial director and the general director have
applied precautionary measures, restricting the priestly ministry of the
accused, since the protection of children and of communities
is of the utmost importance for the Legion. This,
however, is never a statement about the guilt or innocence
of the accused.
The “Circular Letter to Assist
Episcopal Conferences in Developing Guidelines for Dealing with Cases of
Sexual Abuses of Minors Perpetrated by Clerics” issued by
the CDF indicates that “investigation of accusations is to
be done with due respect for the principle of
privacy and the good name of the persons involved.”
of Christ reaffirms its commitment to respond quickly to
accusations of gravely immoral acts, of delicta graviora, and
of violations of religious discipline, using the correct procedure
in each case, in conformity to civil laws, rigorously observing
canonical procedures, and applying the appropriate penalties and sanctions
established in the Code of Canon Law.
reaffirms its commitment to continue to foster safe environments
for children and young people, especially through the observance
of Codes of Conduct for Legionaries, consecrated persons, and
lay people who come into contact with children and
young people in our institutions. Furthermore, there has been and
is contact with outside institutions to improve our procedures
and policies for the prevention of abuse. We also
comply with civil law and Church norms in each
country for the protection of youth.
As the Holy Father wrote
to the priests and religious of Ireland, “All of
us are suffering as a result of the sins
of our confreres who betrayed a sacred trust or failed
to deal justly and responsibly with allegations of abuse.”
We invite everyone to pray for these brothers of
ours and especially for the victims.