New Accusations of Child Sexual Abuse Within the Legion of Christ, SNAP Urges the Vatican to Release All the Files
The Legion of Christ, a Catholic religious order that was taken over by the Vatican in 2010, is again facing lawsuits for child sexual abuse. Six new victims filed complaints against the Legionaries this month in a Connecticut Federal Court. These survivors allege that they fell prey to abusers while attending Legion schools in New Hampshire and Rhode Island in the 1990s.
In 2019, The Legion of Christ released a report identifying 33 priests and 71 seminarians who sexually abused minors over the previous eight decades. The Legion tallied 175 victims of abusive clerics but failed to indicate how many survivors there were from the abusive seminarians.
The order's founder, Rev. Marcial Maciel, died in 2008. He may be the Roman Catholic Church's most egregious perpetrator, abusing seminarians and even the children he had fathered secretly with at least two women. So it should come as no surprise that his followers, both clergy and lay were also abusers.
For this reason, we are convinced that the numbers of abusers and victims released by the order are undoubtedly low. Even with the Vatican oversight of this order, how can the perpetrators and enablers possibly police themselves? Statistics show much of the abuse occurred in Central and South America. Culturally, these areas are not prone to speak out against the Catholic church and we strongly suspect that there are many still silent victims in these countries.
We urge the Vatican to unveil the files of abuse by members and staff of the Legions of Christ. The only path to transparency, accountability, and exposing the truth is through civil justice. Investigators in Mexico and other countries who have survivors affected by the Legion of Christ can provide a more accurate assessment of the number of victims. Survivors become encouraged to come forward if sincere steps are taken to uncover the darkness.
(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)