What next after Barbarin’s resignation?

barbarin

Should we be happy with the conviction of Cardinal Barbarin? Several journalists have asked me.

As the author of a book on the Preynat scandal (Histoire d’une silence) who was seeking to understand how the Church managed to remain silent and in denial so long, the answer is undoubtedly, yes.

The reason is because the verdict holds the institution accountable and forces prelates to now consider the pain of victims, including in historical matters.

Secondly, it is because it concludes the long pathway of several ex-scouts, who dared to expose their wounds to public opinion by taking up this battle in an effort to ensure that their own children will never experience anything similar.

A lesson in humility

When I started writing my book, my objective was certainly not to obtain the resignation of the archbishop of Lyon.

As a journalist, and also as a Catholic from Lyon, my aim was to analyze the mechanisms behind the cover up of crimes, the complicity of successive hierarchies, the cowardice of several priests, the irresponsibility of parents and the subservience of the faithful.

I admired the determination of the victims and their legal battles even though I knew that their persistence was difficult for many Catholics to accept.

Thanks to them, I came to appreciate that the Church would never overcome this crisis on its own.

That is exactly what the court’s decision last week has just confirmed. Catholics finally began to budge only because they were criticized, heckled and even abused by people and outside bodies.

The Church does have something to offer to the world. However, it must first listen to the world. So this has also been a lesson in humility.

The silence of the criminal

As an ex-scout myself who knew Father Preynat, when I started writing my book, I began to ask questions.

What kind of misery lay behind the vaguely scornful grin of the person who terrorized us even as we simultaneously admired him? The man who was an educator for some but an executioner for others?

Now that media attention has turned towards Cardinal Barbarin, I think of this ex-scout chaplain, who is no doubt staying somewhere in Lyon but who has still never expressed himself publicly.

Yet he is a man who has jolted the whole French Church and dismayed the whole Diocese of Lyon.

The action of the Parole Libérée (Speak Out) group has brought an end to the Church’s silence. Except in the case of one person, namely Father Preynat, the criminal, whose trial we are still awaiting.

Isabelle de Gaulmyn
France

LaCroix International

  • Frist published in LaCroix International.
  • Image: LaDepeche.fr

News category: Analysis and Comment.

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