Legion of Christ Releases Report on Abuse, SNAP Reacts

The Legion of Christ Catholic religious order just published a report into abusers within their society. Given that the society itself was founded by a pedophile priest who perpetuated a culture of abuse and cover-up, we doubt this report is fully complete.

According to the report, out of a total pool of 1,413 priests and seminarians in the Legion of Christ, 104 are known to have abused children. This internal abuse report admits that, when hairs are not being split, their order has abuse rate of 7.3%. This percentage is on a par with the numbers discovered through the Royal Commission in Australia and is just below the abuse rates found by secular authorities in Pennsylvania.

We are convinced that this rate is likely much higher due to the toxic culture imbued by Legion of Christ founder Rev. Marcial Maciel. This culture likely prevents any complete, honest accounting of the crisis within the order from ever occurring without Vatican intervention.

The numbers in this report are staggering. The report identifies about 10,000 students who were vulnerable to abuse. It is nearly impossible to get an accurate estimate of the true number of victims, but we given that the average victim of sexual violence take several decades to come forward, we are sure that the true scope of this abuse will not be revealed for many years, especially because no meaningful reform occurred within the Legion until 2010. Moreover, much of the abuse occurred in the Legion's Central and South American strongholds; regions that are lagging behind the US in reporting these crimes and encouraging victims to come forward. We are confident that the number of silent victims outweigh the public ones.

Now that the Vatican has taken over the Legion of Christ, Pope Francis should immediately order an opening up all of Legion of Christ abuse files and investigations so that a true accounting can occur. He can set the first example for transparency following his order last week to lower the confidentiality level at which clergy abuse is treated within the church itself. By taking this step, this in turn might help secular authorities in Mexico and the other countries touched by the Legion of Christ to get a better accounting of the number of victims and make steps to encourage survivors to come forward and name their abusers so that more children can be protected and no one else will have to suffer the scourge of sexual violence.

CONTACT: Dan McNevin, SNAP Board Member (dmcnevin@aol.com, 415-341-6417), Zach Hiner, Executive Director (517-974-9009, zhiner@snapnetwork.org)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)


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