Legionaries of Christ: Sexual abuse was perpetrated at minor seminary

Vatican City, Jan 27, 2020 / 08:00 pm (CNA).- The Legionaries of Christ acknowledged that sexual abuse took place at the religious order’s El Ajusco minor seminary in Mexico City between 1985 and 1992.

The group issued two separate statements Jan. 24, during its general chapter in Rome. The statements were in response to allegations of sexual abuse on the part of Fr. Antonio Rodríguez Sánchez, 65, and laicized priests José María Sabín Sabín, 61.

In its statement on Rodríguez, Legion officials said that during an internal review, “several indications were found of possible sexual abuse of minors by Fr.  Rodríguez in relation to the period when he was rector of the El Ajusco minor seminary in Mexico, between 1983-1988.”

“The initial indications [of abuse] were confirmed by complaints from victims,” the Legion said, and the Rodriguez admitted the abuse.

The Legionaries said that Rodríguez has been banned from contact with minors and prohibited from public priestly ministry since September 2019.

An investigation into Rodriguez has been sent to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican, which began a canonical trial concerning the matter.

“There are no indications of the abuse of minors during other periods of his ministry,” the statement added.

In the case of José María Sabin, the Legionaries of Christ stated that “in relation to his time as rector of the minor seminary between 1988-1992, there are credible private complaints against him for the sexual abuse of minors that were compiled and verified during the work of reviewing cases from the past that the Congregation carried out in 2019.”

Sabín requested in 2014 to leave both the congregation and the priesthood, and the Holy See granted those requests in 2015.

The religious order said it plans to report the abuse to civil authorities in Mexico, and cooperate with any criminal investigation.

The group also said the cases of  Sánchez and Sabín are noted in a December 2019 report on abuse within the congregation, although the priests are not mentioned by name. The report documents statistics on sexual abuse but does not disclose details. 

Since its founding in 1941, 33 priests of the Legionaries of Christ have been found to have committed sexual abuse of minors, victimizing 175 children, according to the 2019 report.

Fr. Marcial Maciel, who founded the order, abused at least 60 minors, according to the order.

 

A version of this story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

 

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