Founder of the Legionaries of Christ in Mexico, the late Marcial Maciel, has reportedly been found to have sexually abused minors from the 1940s until the 1960s and was made to retire in 2006. He, however, denied all allegations before his death in 2008: “I never engaged in the sort of repulsive behavior these men accuse me of,” he said in 2002.
Details emerge after internal investigation
According to an internal investigation, the legion has recorded cases of 175 sexual abuse victims by priests within the organization. The investigation has found a multigenerational chain of abuse that stems from Maciel’s influence and which spread throughout the order. “It is worth noting that 111 of the victims were either victims of Father Maciel, or were victims of his victims or of a victim of one of his victims,” the report states.
A total of 33 priests were found to have sexually abused minors from 1941 to present day, abusing 175 minors during their priesthood. Out of the 33 priests, six have died, eight have left the priesthood, one has left the congregation, while 18 have chosen to remain in the congregation. Out of the 18 remaining priests, four have ministerial restrictions with no pastoral contact with minors and 14 have no public priestly ministry.
The report investigated the extent of abuse committed by the 33 priests, which also includes incidents of cyber abuse or sexting. A total of 13 victims were contacted and about 40 members of the congregation were interviewed in detail. The investigation has also found that most abuse cases took place in the minor seminaries, where over 10,000 students resided.
The Legionaries of Christ
The Legionaries of Christ is a Roman Catholic religious congregation of priests and men studying for the priesthood. Throughout its history, 1,353 priests were ordained in the congregation, 367 of whom either since left or have passed away. The legion is present in 21 countries, mainly in North America, South America, Europe and Asia.
According to a statement on its website, the legionaries have been active in creating a safe environment after identifying the sexual abuse of minors. As part of its plan to promote a safer environment, the Legionaries of Christ have adopted a code of conduct that specifies the types of behavior allowed in the facility.
The new policy has as many as 25 standards articulating a comprehensive response to sexual abuse of minors cases, which includes preventive and response measures to any allegation. The code of conduct goes as far as specifying types of physical touching and interactions which are considered inappropriate.