Sexual abuse, the bishops create an independent commission

During their plenary assembly, which ended on Thursday 8 November, the bishops of France voted to set up an independent commission to shed light on sexual abuse.

Other measures have also been proposed, which will be discussed in various working groups involving bishops, qualified personalities and victims.

Lourdes

From our special correspondent

a "Deep moment of meeting in humility, listening". Thus, the president of the Episcopal Conference and archbishop of Marseilles, mgr. Georges Pontier, described, on Thursday 8 November, in his closing speech the meeting – the first day of the Plenary Assembly – with the victims of sexual abuse by priests. Accepting for the first time to receive them in Lourdes, the bishops measured "The path of long and deep destruction" caused by the same acts but also by "The evil that takes into account these facts from the ecclesial authority, the feeling of being heard anywhere".

Over the days, beyond the annoyance of some in front of the measure taken by the subject in the debates, beyond the anxiety regarding the unjustly suspected priests, a consensus has appeared around it is not necessary to act "Only through our initiatives taken for years" but "Together and with others", recognized Mons. Pontier.

As a first consequence of this new way of acting, the Bishops voted to create a new one "Independent Commission to shed light on sexual abuse of minors in the Catholic Church since 1950". CEF must announce in the coming days "The name of the personality" who will be in charge of guiding him, "To name members and specify the perimeter". We already know that it will be in charge of "To understand the reasons that have favored the way these cases were treated", do "Recommendations" and also"Evaluating the measures taken by the French Bishops' Conference since the 2000s" in a report that will be made public "In eighteen months and two years". TO "Most majority" According to a CEF official, the bishops also agreed on many others "Approaches" everything will be guided by a working group of bishops, victims and qualified personalities "Civil society". a "Memory work" and collection of "Stories of the victims" will be conducted in the dioceses, with those "Who will want it". After much discussion and information on existing practices abroad, the bishops also consented "Offering a financial gesture to the victims", as they have urged one of them.

"The interest of this gesture is not primarily financial and does not aim to cover expenses" of health, has already warned Monsignor Pontier. " It is rather for the Church to publicly recognize their victim status ", especially those whose abuses are prescribed and who can not turn to civil justice. Even before the terms of this "Gesture" are defined, the bishops have already thought about the establishment of a & # 39; Funds intended for financing "All the measures" and ways to feed it. "We will release the budget" promised the CEF.

In addition to publishing reports "Regular" on the topic and more effort for "Awareness and prevention", the bishops finally announce the establishment of "Specific reception and support measures for priests who have committed acts of pedophilia or priests with fragility that may be risk factors".

The first are those who have been condemned for ancient events, on which justice has finally been pronounced, but which have not been renewed in the secular state, says mgr. Luc Crepy, bishop of Puy and head of the commission for permanent fight against sexual abuse. Regarding the second, the bishops expressed their wish "All the weaknesses are taken into consideration, including alcohol addiction for example" and for which "There are not enough proposals". "It is a step on a path that marks a real will to move forward with victims and competent personalities", assured Bishop Crepy, recognizing him "The temporality of the victims is not always that of the bishops".

"We talked, exchanged, discussed, beautiful things happened and a real dialogue with the victims, all of this is very heavy for each of us, but we have to take it and face it."

Anne-Bénédicte Hoffner

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