An article written by the National Catholic Reporter editorial staff, http://ncronline.org/news/accountability/editorial-legions-record-calls-criminal-investigation referring to the almost unimaginable fraud, offers an opinion that civil authorities should conduct a criminal investigation into the activities of the Legionaries of Christ based on their record. They also recommend that the Church proceed with extreme caution in considering allowing the Legion to continue.
The NCR refers to the two lawsuits in Rhode Island that claim the Legion defrauded elderly donors (Mrs. Gabrielle Mee and James Boa-The Chu, a Yale University professor).
The article suggests that the Legion’s striking pattern of fraudulent fundraising tactics by a religious charity and the bilking of elderly Americans stands out as a matter demanding investigation. and that the civil authorities might be interested in investigating further to discover what other fraud the Legion might be carrying out to sustain their multi million dollar budget. The writers say that the Church has a responsibility to excise from the body a cancer that has seriously damaged the community.
Calling upon the Rhode Island attorney general to open a criminal investigation of the Legionaries of Christ, they state that they have found in the past that it is difficult to get full accounts of criminal activities of church leaders unless civil authorities become involved.
At the same time, Fox News has reported http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/01/30/group-seeks-criminal-probes-disgraced-catholic-order/ that the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, (S.N.A.P.) is seeking a criminal probe of the Legionaries of Christ. David Clohessy, executive director of SNAP said recently that Rhode Island and Connecticut law enforcement should investigate. Mr. Clohessy stated the Legion’s known and suspected wrongdoing is so persistent and widely documented that we think action by law enforcement is warranted. No institution can or should be allowed to essentially police itself.
Bernard Jackvony, the lawyer in the case of Mrs. Gabrielle Mee had reportedly expressed disappointment when he heard that the attorney general was not planning to get involved in the case and treat it as a civil or criminal matter. A spokesperson for the attorney general’s office has urged Jackvony to take any allegations of criminal wrongdoing to state police.
According to the Fox News article, there have been no complaints against the Legion made to the Connecticut Division of Criminal Justice but they have stated that if anyone did file a complaint, it would be reviewed and acted upon. So until someone is willing to take on the Legion and their lawyers, this will probably not happen.
One thing that has changed in a positive way over the last three years of renewal (not reform) is that there has been less information control over what the members listen to and read about what is happening. When members were restricted to reading friendly accounts of Legion news in Zenit and the National Catholic Register and other Legion controlled media, many members were often unaware of negative news about their leaders or the religious order they belonged to or they had a warped understanding of the true situation. We hope that with the small changes that have taken place, such as banning the secret vows and promises, allowing somewhat more free discussion and better access to outside truth that more members and 3gf women are redeveloping some critical thinking skills. The window of opportunity for this may be coming to an end unless Pope Francis has a plan in place for what to do when Cardinal DePaolis takes his leave within a few months. If the Pope fails to take action while he has a golden opportunity we feel it is quite likely that everything will tend to go back to the structure and methodology that suited Nuestro Padre so well for so long and the deception and fraud will continue.