Following is an interview with Fr. Steven Reilly LC,
about the Code of Conduct from the Legion of Christ. To read the Code of Conduct, click here.
The Legionaries of
Christ have just released a new Code of Conduct. What is it, and why are you doing this?
Actually it is
not really new. Our Code of Conduct was
issued in 2009 and is a very important step in
our Praesidium safe environment accreditation process.
The Code gives the Legionaries helpful information
about maintaining proper boundaries in their work with others, especially
minors, but also adults. It is much easier
to maintain safe environments if everyone is clear on what
is allowed and what is inappropriate. The Code
gives us a tool to pick up on the red
flags and act upon them.
We now want this Code to be available
on our website where anyone can read it because we
want others to know what we are doing to maintain
safe environments. And if the people we work
with know our Code, they will help us to live
us more about the Praesidium safe environment accreditation process you
The leadership organization
for religious orders of men, known as CMSM (the Conference
of Major Superiors of Men) wanted to show that religious
orders were implementing best practices to prevent the abuse of
minors. They enlisted the help of the Praesidium
organization to develop an accreditation process. CMSM adopted
twenty-five accreditation standards and Praesidium audits the orders for compliance. This involves site visits, interviews with members and
detailed examination of the order’s documentation. When all
the standards are met, the order receives accreditation, and then
regularly renews the process.
How has the accreditation process worked so far? Do you believe it has been effective in achieving
its intended purpose?
I think it has been a very positive experience. There was a great deal of support both from
superiors and our members. I heard lots of
comments on how the effort helped raise awareness and improved
our work with both youth and adults.
One of the best things about
it was establishing a review board that consists of four
laymen and a Legionary. We have worked closely
with the board. They have great objectivity and
aren’t afraid of asking tough questions. Father Alvaro
mentioned in his letter of May 25 about the cases
we have dealt with in the U.S. The
Review Board’s input during those investigations was critically important.
Can you give us
a quick overview of the Code of Conduct and a
breakdown of the areas it addresses?
The first part lays out the basic
boundaries policy for Legionaries in working with youth and with
adults. As with any boundaries policy, there is an intervention
method for violations, dealt with in the second part. The third part explains the Legionary’s obligation to report
to civil authorities any knowledge or suspicion of sexual abuse
of minors. Part four answers questions about pastoral
confidentiality. And finally, the fifth part outlines the
process that the Legion will follow in the US when
there is an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor
by one of our members.
Besides the obvious ones, what have been the
benefits of the accreditation process?
People who bring concerns forward do us a
service, because it causes us to take action.
People have certain expectations of priests and religious, and we
have to take very seriously allegations of misconduct, whether they
involve minors or adults. We are committed to
holding accountable anyone in our organization that has done wrong.
I hope our
efforts in the US will be helpful for the Legion
in other countries. Here we have learned a
lot from Praesidium, as well as the CMSM and the
US Bishops, and drawing from their experience has made us
stronger in this country. Of course, there are
cultural differences that need to be respected, but hopefully this
will enable us to make more progress worldwide.
If someone has a concern
or issue with a Legionary, what is the appropriate reporting
allegations of sexual abuse of minors and can be reached
by email, firstname.lastname@example.org or phone, 301-580-0340. These are
very serious situations, so it is important to also report
your issue to the authorities. We are totally
committed to addressing these matters and especially to helping anyone
who has been hurt.