French priest’s suicide shockwave

A French priest’s suicide has left shock, sorrow and questions in its wake.

Archbishop Dominique Lebrun of Rouen said 38-year old Father Jean-Baptiste Sèbe had acknowledged his “inappropriate gestures” with a young woman.

At the end of the frank but caring meeting, Archbishop Lebrun blessed Sèbe, who carried out his daily activities as usual before later killing himself.

Lebrun says nothing prepared him for the possibility that Sèbe might commit suicide.

“I have questioned myself deeply about what I said or what I failed to say,” he says.

Lebrun says several people in close contact with Sèbe had been concerned he was facing possible “burn out.”

Visibly still moved by his visit to the priest’s parents, he asked aloud “Why did it happen?

“Many questions arise in our hearts. Why did this happen? We are full of incomprehension at such an event even though I knew that he was experiencing a difficult time,” he said.

There was a “disproportion” between the suicide and the accusations against Sèbe, Lebrun said, adding Sèbe had a good support network around him.

According to city prosecutors last week, a woman had accused Father Sèbe of indecent behaviour and sexual assault of her daughter.

A police source says “a woman had complained to the archbishop of Rouen about the priest. However, nothing was reported to the police prior to the suicide.”

The archdiocese says it has not yet been informed of any report against Sèbe, nor has it had any news of the young woman or her family.

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