Mexico: Legion of Christ victims criticize sex abuse report
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Victims of sexual abuse by priests from the Roman Catholic Legion of Christ in Mexico sharply criticized an internal report on pedophilia released over the weekend.
Victims called the report incomplete, saying Monday that it is missing some victims and does not denounce those who covered up for abuses, allowing them to continue.
“It is a small report. We have no idea about its foundations. We do not know where they get the numbers from nor how they did the investigation,” said Ana Lucía Salazar, a 36-year-old TV presenter who says she was abused by a Legionnaire when she was 8 years old at a school in Cancun.
“It is tainted and weakened because the victims of (Legion of Christ founder) Marcial Maciel alone were more than 120, and they do not name those who covered it up or were complicit,” Salazar said.
The report made public Saturday identified 33 priests and 71 seminarians accused of sexually abusing minors since the Legion of Christ was founded nearly eight decades ago.
It said 175 people were victimized by priests, including 60 by the late Maciel. But it did not specify the number abused by seminarians, though it did show there was a multigenerational chain of abuse with victims later becoming abusers.
Other victims such as Alberto Athie, an academic and former priest who was one of the first to denounce Maciel, also insisted on the need to identify those who covered up the abuse.
The Associated Press normally does not identify alleged victims of sexual abuse, but both Salazar and Athie have been publicly outspoken about their cases.
Maciel died in 2008 in Jacksonville, Florida, after being forced to resign as head of the order.
Criticism of the report also came from within the ranks of the church in Mexico, where the Legion of Christ was founded.
“This report arrives late, incomplete and under a cloud of suspicion that what is said there is not all there is,” Monterrey Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera, president of the Mexican Bishop’s Conference, told reporters Sunday.
Cabrera said that “there was a very large criminal cover-up” and a “criminal silence” on the part of Vatican authorities and members of the Legion of Christ who failed to report abuses or prevented others from doing so.
The leadership of the Legionnaires is to consider the report at a general meeting in January.
Salazar and other victims say there can be reconciliation only where all the guilty are punished and the order is purged of abusers.
“They have only tried to wash the face” of the order, Salazar said. “And it is not working. People have not looked kindly on it, and we victims are angry because each one who is not counted is being re-victimized.”