French bishops to meet children of priests

Three children of priests, representing the Children of Silence association, will meet the French bishops at the Bishops Conference of France next month.

The meeting, which is a first in France, follows an initial meeting between Children of Silence president Anne-Marie Jarzac (67) and two Bishops’ Conference members.

“We told them that we needed to be recognised as the children of priests,” she says.

Jarzac says she has also met with her local bishop, who had shown “sensitivity to the issue”.

“Until now, we [Children of Silence] were given the impression that we were a threat to the Church,” Jarzac says.

“Perhaps leaders were afraid that we would demand compensation. But we are not operating on that wavelength at all.”

Jarzac says she was 16 before she found out her father was a priest.

She spoke only once with him as “the issue was painful for him.”

She says she would like “to be able to meet with the pope in Rome and that he might provide some words of comfort” for those concerned.

“We are not responsible for our situation.”

Jarzac is condemnatory of the “silence” in the Church over the children of priests.

While he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, the future Pope Francis said a priest who became a father should “leave the ministry and assume care for the child, even if he did not decide to marry the woman concerned.”

“Since the child has a right to a mother, it also has the right to a father with a known face,” he said.

An internal Vatican document setting out the procedure for dealing with cases of priests with children provides for an accelerated administrative procedure allowing a priest with a child to be relieved of his priestly obligations “in a few months”.


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