Accusations of Offenses Committed by Legionaries Reviewed by Cdf

Legionaries of Christ
May 11, 2012

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. ( <> )

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.

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 decades ago.

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."

The Legion 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.

It also 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.


Any original material on these pages is copyright 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.