CV NEWS FEED // Leaders of the Communion and Liberation ecclesial movement said they failed to properly address allegations of sexual and psychological abuse against the movement’s former U.S. head.
The group released a letter last week from Fr. Michael Carvill, the North American responsible for Communion and Liberation (CL), and Steve Brown, President of Human Adventure Corporation (HAC), the group responsible for organizing CL events.
The letter said that in 2018, CL leaders were informed of allegations against Christopher Bacich, the movement’s former leader in the U.S.
HAC launched an investigation into the allegations and found that they were credible after victims brought them to the attention of Fr. Jose Medina, then-leader of CL in the United States.
In 2019, the investigators sent a letter to all U.S. CL groups informing them of the findings. Bacich resigned from the community, though he claimed the allegations were false.
Following the 2019 investigation, two other claims filed against Bacich alleged sexual abuse, and subsequent investigations substantiated those claims.
Bacich declined to participate in the investigations.
While the letter does not name the number of incidents, it says that the abuse occurred sometime between 1995 and 2018. Bacich led the organization from at least 2006 to at least 2013.
“We sincerely apologize to the victims, families, and community members harmed by these evil acts. We are truly grateful to the…members who had the courage to bring these events to light,” said the statement.
The letter noted that for the past year, both Carvill and Brown have met with the victims and expressed sorrow for the incidents. The letter also explained that CL notified local law enforcement as well as ecclesial authorities.
“It is very troubling that these alleged acts were carried out by an adult who had an educational responsibility in the movement in North America. These events fill us with sorrow, and we are reminded that none of us is immune to the effects of sin,” read the letter.
Carvill and Brown acknowledged that CL, at the time, lacked the resources and structure to properly safeguard against abuse cases.
“If certain evils happened within our community, they did so partly because the environment lacked safeguards specifically designed to detect and prevent such abuse,” said Carvill and Brown.
The letter said CL is working to support the victims and is dedicated to preventing future abuse. It listed its 2020 Protection of Minors Abuse Policy and said that it is frequently updating it with the best practices.
“We can never tolerate any form of violence, especially against minors and young adults. Much less can we ever justify such an attitude, whether it stems from one’s temperament, perversion, illness, or a willful desire to dominate others. We ask each of you to pay serious attention to these indications and to immediately report any and all suspected abuse to the Committee for the Protection of Minors, Fr. Michael Carvill, or any member of the HAC Board,” read the letter.
Founded in 1982, Communion and Liberation is an Italian ecclesial movement dedicated to helping the laity discover friendship and understand culture. Since receiving recognition from the Vatican, CL has grown into a global organization.
However, it has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years as it has struggled with leadership and abuse allegations. Last year, Cardinal Kevin Farrell appointed Davide Prosperi as CL’s new head, canceling an upcoming election scheduled by CL leaders to vote internally for a new leader.