Correspondent in Paris
The Church of France announces the start of a great process of reform of its governance, putting himself in the hands of the police and justice to prosecute pedophilia, after recognizing his own institutional responsibility for the attacks, abuses and rapes of hundreds of thousands of minors by priests and pedophile laity between 1950 and 2020.
Double historical scoop. Last Friday, the French Episcopal Conference recognized that institutional responsibility, following the revelations of the independent Commission on sexual abuse in the Church (Ciase), chaired by Jean-Marc Sauvé, honorary vice president of the Council of State.
After a long weekend of collective reflection, in Lourdes, Monsignor Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, president of the Episcopal Conference, presented on Monday morning a long and anguished collective ‘mea culpa’, announcing a historical review of the Church of France of his own position in the deepest moral crisis in his recent history.
Monsignor de Moulins-Beaufort, began with this declaration of principles:
“We have understood that we need outside help. We are not trained as investigators, prosecutors or investigating judges. The Church of Christ is not made to face the crimes that human society is capable of condemning. We must open ourselves, even to criminals, in the hope that it is never too late for repentance. Today we must reaffirm our confidence in the justice and police services of our country. Perhaps for the first time in its history, the Church of France accepts its “submission” to the independent investigations by police and prosecutors who have investigated or could investigate cases of pedophilia or sexual abuse.
Based on this declaration of principles, of a moral nature, the Episcopal Conference announces the formation of work groups, laity and religious, which should make concrete proposals in these sensitive areas: “Creation of a financial fund to support aid to victims.” “Prevention and training within the Church.” “Governance and control within the Church.” “Responsibility and recognition”. It is the beginning of a vast process of collective reflection, which will take time, before advancing concrete proposals.
Affirmed reliance on police and justice to prosecute pedophilia, within it, the Episcopal Conference requests the direct intervention of the Pope, the Vatican, in a vast process of institutional reform, which Monsignor de Moulins-Beaufort announced in these terms:
“Our resolutions are an ambitious program of renewal of the practices and governance of the Church of France. We transmit them to the Holy Father. We ask the Pope to come to our aid, sending us someone you trust, to examine how we should treat victims and their offenders. The working groups that we have created will work closely with the Vatican’s special envoy.
How could it be otherwise, the Episcopal Conference asks the Pope for help: the reform of the institutional governance of the Church, in this area, also has “fringes” inseparable from canon law and basic practices, beginning with the secrecy of the confession and dialogue between victims and guilty of very different crimes of an individual nature.