Call for bishops in France to resign en masse over sex abuse scandal

France sex abuse scandal

There have been calls for the mass resignation of all bishops in France over the sex abuse scandal rocking the Catholic Church throughout the country.

The “Appeal for a Renewed and Trustworthy Church”, was posted on Monday. It is an online petition calling for the en masse resignation of the country’s bishops.

“As a sign of hope and renewal, we ask for the collective resignation of all the bishops in office.

“It is the only gesture commensurate with the catastrophe and the loss of confidence in which we find ourselves,” says the petition website.

“Faced with this bankruptcy, the resignation of the bishops is the only honourable solution,” said Anne Soupa, a theologian and married mother of four adult children who “applied” last year to become Archbishop of Lyon.

Soupa is one of three leading reform-minded Catholics in France behind the drive.

The other two are François Devaux, co-founder of the abuse victims’ group “La Parole Libérée”, and Christine Pedotti, editorial director of the progressive Catholic magazine Témoignage Chrétien.

During its first 24 hours online, the appeal/petition had gathered nearly 3,200 signatures.

It comes six days after the October 5 publication of the damaging report by the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church (CIASE).

Also known as the Sauvé Report, the massive document revealed that some 330,000 children and adolescents were victims of sexual violence in the Church in France between 1950 and 2020.

“In any other association or company, resignation would have been demanded even for something 100 times less damaging. All the leaders would have had to resign,” said Soupa.

“Undoubtedly, not all French bishops have covered up crimes. But the very structure of the Catholic hierarchy assumes continuity and solidarity between each bishop and his predecessor. As such, though not all are guilty, all are responsible,” says the online petition.

To support their demand, the three signatories point to a “precedent” in the Catholic Church.

In 2018, the group resignation of 34 Chilean bishops occurred after they were directly challenged by Pope Francis for mishandling sexual abuse cases. The pope eventually accepted the resignation of seven of them.

Pedotti, Soupa and Devaux have received the support of Reverend Pierre Vignon, an expert on tackling sexual abuse in the Church.

“What would have had panache and would have made an impression would have been to collectively resign immediately,” said Vignon. He is a priest who is known to be a straight-shooter and a bit of a maverick.

“They (the bishops) can still do that at their next plenary assembly in Lourdes in November,” he said.


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