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Besides Pope Francis acknowledging his misjudgment of Chilean clergy sexual abuse, the other major Catholic news of the week has been a letter sent by Legion of Christ sexual abuse victims demanding Legion of Christ leaders acknowledge and compensate them once and for all. As the reader will see, the primary thrust of the demand is not money but formal and specific recognition of their suffering as well as acknowledgement and reparation of the Legion’s neglect and defamation of the victims together with Legion’s internal information control (vis-à-vis their members) regarding the full effects of the founders’ crimes.
The victims’ letter to the Legion of Christ General Chapter meeting in Rome was originally ignored but strong coverage by Associate Press, the general media and Catholic sources such as the Catholic News Service put the leaders’ feet to the fire and they have responded in a communication couched in the most cautious and legalistic terms.
Sequence of Events:
- Maciel survivors send letter[i] by various means to all members of Legion Chapter General meeting in Rome: [ii] “From March 26 to April 7, 2018, the first part of the Extraordinary General Chapter of the Legionaries of Christ will take place at the seat of the General Directorate in Rome. The second part will take place from November 19 to 24, 2018, at the same venue.”
- The letter is not acknowledged or discussed at the Legion of Christ Extraordinary General Chapter held in Rome.
- Receiving no response from Legion leadership, the victims release the letter to the media, spear-headed by AP[iii]. The news quickly spreads to other major world and Catholic news media, such as CNA.
- Thereupon, Legion leadership issues a communique, through their communications officer, Fr. Aaron Smith, in Spanish and undated[iv], referring to the letter without replying to (ignoring) the Victims. We post initial paragraphs of communique, translated by out team into English so the public can catch a glimpse of Legiospeak.[v]
“LEGIONARIES OF CHRIST, INTERNATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS OFFICE COMMUNIQUE
+39 328 987 26 15
Regarding the letter sent to the Legionaries of Christ by José de Jesús Barba Martín and José Antonio Pérez Olvera, the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ states the following.
- On March 26, the general director received a letter signed by José de Jesús Barba Martín and José Antonio Pérez Olvera, two of those who denounced Fr. Maciel´s abuses publicly in 1997, requesting that their petition be included in the General Chapter’s Agenda.
- The general director, after consulting with his council, presented the request to the Extraordinary General Chapter, and informed the Chapter that the general government would seek a personal rapprochement with the each one of the signers and respond to their requests.
- We ask forgiveness from all the victims who throughout our history have suffered any kind of abuse, knowing that this request will never be enough to heal their wounds. Regarding Fr. Maciel, the 2014 General Chapter stated:” etc.
- ReGAIN, gathering the victims’ recent private reactions to Legion communique, comments: The Legion’s communique is riddled with inaccuracies, ambiguities and downright lies: as stated above, the victims’ letter was sent to each and all the members of the Chapter and not specifically or only to the LC general director, Fr. Eduardo Robles Gil (indisputably a disciple and protege of Fr. Maciel). Fr. Robles pre-emptively took control of the letter and the chapter general fathers’ response, preventing any option of a reaction or discussion from or among the fathers. He decided for them not to put the letter on the floor and decided unilaterally what was to be done with the letter’s requests. There was no free discussion. Robles-Gil promises to meet with the two signers of the Letter (individually?) but he
- does not address the senders
- or mention the group of eighth survivors as such whose lives were destroyed by Founder, Fr. (the serial pedophile founder was never defrocked by the Vatican!) Marcial Maciel.[vi] As can be seen in the communique
- the Legion did not heed any of the victims’ requests but gives a facile response, suggesting it has already addressed the issue in question. This has been the Legion’s operational policy since the group originally accused Fr. Maciel twenty years ago. Reader, please revisit victims’ recent requests in footnote i
“México City, March 2018
The undersigned, collectively known as the ‘historical victims’ of Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, ask the Legion of Christ, through its representatives gathered in the Extraordinary General Chapter taking place in Rome from the 24th March 2018 that the issue of the Victims of Fr. Maciel and of the Legion of Christ be included in the agenda of the said General Chapter. Specifically, we make the following list of requests:
- We ask that the Extraordinary General Chapter emit a Public Recognition of our status as victims of sexual abuse at the hands of Fr. Marcial Maciel and as victims of moral, psychological and spiritual harm at the hands of the Congregation. We ask that the congregation recognize that it made us and our families suffer in a continued, consistent and prolonged way when we revealed the perverse crimes of Maciel to the Church and the international community through articles published by journalists Jason Berry and Gerald Renner (Hartford Courant on 23rd of February 1997) and through the complaint presented to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the 17th of October 1998.
- We ask that it be publicly recognized that our struggle to make known the truth about Fr. Maciel was a true service to the Church, of which we form part, as well as being a true service to the Legion of Christ. Consequentially we ask that the Chapter declare that we were never traitors of the Church or of the Legion.
- Representing the historical victims to whom the “Commission of Contact with the Victims” never approached we request that the said commission be re-opened in order to fulfill the mission for which it was instituted by Cardinal de Paolis. We declare once again that this commission never contacted us.
For the reopening of the Commission for Victims we request the following:
- a) The commission would be composed of members named by the historical victims, by the Legion of Christ and by the Church.
- b) It’s re opening will not affect or prejudice any legal actions undertaken by the historical victims.
- c) It will make effective the recognition of the historical victims through the establishment of a plan of action negotiated with the historical victims and evaluated by interdisciplinary professionals. It will determine the harm inflicted on us and its indispensable reparation.
- As a visible sign of reconciliation, we request a public act of redress for the historical victims with the community of Rome, where many of the abuses took place, and another similar event with the communities of Mexico.
- We ask that we be informed appropriately of the decisions of the Extraordinary General Chapter with regard to our petitions to the following electronic address: (sic) and through courier to the attached postal addresses and that that the communication be considered as received when we acknowledge receipt.
Postal Address (sic)
José de Jesús Barba Martin José Antonio Pérez Olvera
Representing the Historical Victims of Fr. Macie and the Congregation of the Legion of Christ for the purposes of the above written letter
March 24, 2018”
[v] Spanish version of Legion Communique. The writer could not find an English language one.
LEGIONARIOS DE CRISTO
OFICINA DE COMUNICACIÓN INTERNACIONAL
Oficina de Comunicación Internacional
+39 328 987 26 15
Respecto a la carta enviada a los Legionarios de Cristo por José de Jesús Barba Martín y José Antonio Pérez Olvera, la Congregación de los Legionarios de Cristo desea expresar lo siguiente:
- El 26 de marzo de 2018, el director general recibió una carta digital firmada por José de Jesús Barba Martín y José Antonio Pérez Olvera, dos de las personas que denunciaron los abusos del P. Maciel públicamente en 1997, solicitando la inclusión de su petición en la Agenda del Capítulo General.
- El director general, después de haber hablado con su Consejo, presentó carta al Capítulo
General extraordinario, e informó al Capítulo de que el gobierno general buscará un acercamiento personal a cada uno de los firmantes de la misiva y responderá a sus peticiones.
- Pedimos perdón a todas las víctimas que a lo largo de nuestra historia han sufrido algún tipo de abuso, sabiendo que esta petición de perdón nunca será suficiente para sanar las profundas heridas.
Con relación al P. Maciel, el Capítulo General de 2014 dijo:
[vi] “In a statement Friday (April 13th, 2018) responding to a request from The Associated Press, the Legion said its leaders ‘will try to get in touch personally with each of those who had signed the letter and respond to their requests.’ “: