"The Church does not limit herself to asking for forgiveness, she really recognizes that she is guilty, but it does not stop there. Now it's about saying 'never again', "said Bishop Luc Crépy, in charge of the fight against pedophilia in the Episcopal Conference of France (CEF), according to Agence France Presse.
In his inaugural address to the CEF's autumn meeting at the sanctuary of Lourdes, its president, George Pontier, had recognized that both society, the Catholic community and the Church itself "are wondering how this could be achieved". situation. But he maintained that in the last 15 years there has been a continuous change "to better accompany the victims" that has to continue, he acknowledged, "to prevent these unspeakable dramas, to act with great firmness before the authors" of the abuses. That is why, continued the Archbishop of Marseille, that the Episcopal Conference has proposed the creation of "a group of independent experts, historians and other powers, to help us" to perform "the work of truth and memory" on abuses Sex in the Church.
The commission, which should be formalized in the coming days, should allow "shed light on all the facts and better understand their context, analyze the reasons why these horrible acts were committed and fight better against them," he explained to the network TF1 the spokesman of the Episcopal Conference, Vincent Neymon.
More than 400 complaints of pedophilia in the Church
According to the report of the Episcopal Conference on pedophilia, updated on the eve of the appointment in Lourdes, since 2010, the bishops have received 433 complaints for pedophilia (practically half of them in the last two years). Of these, 212 have been transmitted to the courts, 36 have been settled with prosecutions and a dozen with prison sentences.
The bishops met on Saturday with seven victims to "listen and reflect" on the situation. "We also want to understand why the Church has not been able to help them," the archbishop of Marseille told the newspaper. La Provence this Saturday. But victims like the members of the Liberated Word organization, largely responsible for France's public debate since 2015 on the problem of pedophilia within the Catholic Church, decided to boycott a meeting that, as she told this newspaper its president, François Devaux, it is, rather than a step to acknowledge their responsibility, "a communication operation". Proof of this, critics say, is the fact that victims of pedophilia were not heard in the plenary of the conference, but behind closed doors in small work groups. Or that this same week the Church sanctioned one of the priests who have most denounced pedophilia in its midst. As confirmed by the religious himself on Thursday, the priest of Valence Pierre Vignon, has been removed from his duties in the ecclesiastical court of Lyon after launching this summer on the Internet a petition to obtain the resignation of Cardinal de Lyon Philippe Barbarin, that in January will be judged for hiding cases of abuse of minors by a priest under his command. The cardinal, one of the most influential religious in France, participated in pedophilia work groups this Saturday in Lourdes.
"Some doubt our true determination. We say to them: come and work together. Let us recover the minimum confidence necessary to achieve it ", Bishop Pontier replied in his opening speech. "We have been called to go through a path together that should bear fruit for the victims and for the ecclesiastical life," he added.
Among the victims who decided to accept the invitation are Véronique Garnier. As he told AFP, he went to Lourdes because it was "the opportunity to hear words that explain, that relieve". Also wanted to go Olivier Savignac, who this week participated as a private prosecution in the trial against a pedophile priest and the bishop of Orleans who silenced his abuses, André Fort, for whom the prosecution has requested a year in prison as an "exemplary" sentence (The only religious condemned so far to hide cases of pedophilia, in 2001, was sentenced to three months suspended prison). It is about "sending a strong signal to the bishops" that they should be aware "of the seriousness of the facts," Savignac said.
In the interview with The Provence, Monsignor Pontier however considered that the sentence requested by the prosecution against Bishop Fort in Orleans is "severe" and "harsh". "Is it necessary to make this bishop a scapegoat? Make an example (of him) should not be the goal of justice, "he said.