The church’s systemic problem of paedophilia

Paedophilia is a systemic problem and the Church’s efforts to ensure the “accompaniment” of the victims were ‘insufficient,’ says French Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort.

The president elect of the Conference of Bishops of France says the need to shed light on the Church’s sex abuse scandals “cannot be considered purely marginal.

“It’s a systemic problem that needs to be treated as such. And we are determined to do so.”

In his view, media coverage is a necessary aspect of opening up about cases of sex abuse.

“An important step is convincing everyone of the importance of the issue and, from that perspective, François Ozon’s film Grâce à Dieu [By the Grace of God] has rendered a great service: it has enabled many people who did not want to face up to sexual violence to see what are its consequences.”

De Moilins-Beaufort says he had his eyes opened to clerical sex abuse nine years ago.

“I had to deal with a case that had already been tried in 1999 for a priest who was already a member of the Diocese of Paris,” he says.

“I met the families of the victims who needed it. This case completely opened my eyes.”

That is when he realized that the Church’s efforts to ensure the “accompaniment” of the victims were “insufficient”.

He also insisted on the inadequacy, at the time, of the consideration given to the fate of the children and the long-term consequences of sex abuse.

These days more and more priests are suspended and asked to stop celebrating the sacraments in public.

“We are aware that the priest’s spiritual power can create a type of situation in which, in certain cases, abuses are possible,” he says.

“What has favoured these cases is a certain number of divides in the Church of France: part of the impunity [of an abusive priest] was he was considered a good priest, de Moulins-Beaufort says, referring to the case of a priest accused of many incidents of sex abuse against children.

He stresses that Catholic officials must collaborate with the Justice Department.

“We are quite clear on the fact that all cases need to be submitted to the country’s justice authorities,” the archbishop said. “We have fully understood that the prescribed action depends on the assessment of the judge and not of the ordinary citizen.”

De Moulins-Beaufort defended confessional secrecy, while stating that “if someone comes and confesses that he has committed an act of that nature, you can only give him absolution if you are certain that he will denounce his act or that he agrees to speak about it outside of confession.”


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