Paris archdiocese agrees to report abuse allegations

The archdiocese of Paris has agreed to report all credible cases of sexual abuse by clerics or lay Church employees.

This rule will apply even if the victims do not file a complaint.

Archbishop Michel Aupetit has signed a protocol with agreed with Paris’s judicial authorities as an experiment for a year.

The agreement mirrors others the prosecutor’s office has signed with the city’s public schools and hospitals.

“We can trust French justice,” the archbishop said when he signed the agreement.

Aupetit said when he was the bishop of Nanterre, he saw “by collaborating with the law, we got results that were much faster, safer and more respectful to people (and could) make the most appropriate decision.

“It’s not about protecting the institution nor me … we do not have the means to investigate,” he said.

“The Church has made errors in the past, such as suspending an accused priest who was later acquitted.”

The agreement came at a time when ever more people in France are coming forward about past sexual wrongdoing by priests, and after repeated scandals have pushed the French Catholic Church to step up efforts to address abuse.

Paris public prosecutor Remy Heitz said the agreement meant the legal system would “not leave the Church alone to judge complex situations”.

The archdiocese will now immediately report any accusations of wrongdoing to prosecutors. In the past, the church would conduct an internal investigation first.

The lack of clear guidelines available to the Church has led to cases being covered up in the past. These include the the one for which Lyon’s Cardinal Philippe Barbarin was convicted last March because he did not denounce a crime.

Heitz said his office was currently investigating 12 cases of alleged sexual abuse by clerics.

Several other dioceses in France are said to be considering a similar agreement with their local legal officials.

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News category: World.

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