French Catholic Academy says sex abuse report could ruin Church

A small group of French Catholic Academy members say the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church (CIASE) report prepared by Academy members has produced a skewed document that could be “ruinous” for institutional Catholicism.

The report was commissioned by the French Bishops’ Conference.

The CIASE report was wrong to impute the Church with systemic responsibility for sexual abuse, say media-leaked letters  to the French Bishops’ Conference president and the papal nuncio to France.

The letters were signed by eight Academy members including its president, Hugues Portelli.

At present the Academy has about 70 members.

The letters questioned some of the report’s juridical and theological aspects.

They say the report (also known as the Sauvé report) is overly aggressive. They denounce “its methodological weaknesses” and “its sometimes hazardous analyses”.

At the same time, they admit the report “was born of a courageous and justified approach” but its findings “can only serve to guide the action of the Church and its faithful.

“Some of them could be ruinous for the Church; others call into question (its) spiritual and sacred nature,” the letters say. A big concern is the high number of alleged victims the report estimates.

A meeting at the Vatican for CIASE members to discuss the report had been scheduled for December 9, but has been postponed.

Sauvé says he was expecting attacks on the CIASE report, so isn’t surprised to learn of the Academy members’ letters.

“I sensed that they would be more precocious and very strong, in particular from traditionalist circles. It came from the Catholic Academy.

“The criticism of our report is of course legitimate. I wrote that in the introduction … but I have feelings of sadness … because I myself am a member of this Academy.”

Sauvé says he thinks the letters’ secrecy turns their effect into “a web of venomous attacks”.

He is also concerned about the signatories’ injunction to the Church to do nothing “either in terms of moral and compensatory reparation or in terms of modification of behavior or rules if the objective truth is not established”.

This is particularly inappropriate in the view the Church has already taken and the modesty of the arguments put forth by these members of the Catholic Academy, he says.

“This is also an insult to the victims.”

He says the letter-writers “have acted in accordance with the worst of a certain Catholic culture, that is to say, secretly, without contradictory debate and by going first to the authorities.”

Sauvé says Portelli had invited him to present the CIASE report to Academylast month but withdrew the invitation “sine die, and without any real explanation, shortly after I said yes.”

He thinks the aim was “to ensure that the Church is freed from having to make painful compensations and reforms that are necessary and profound.”

There are the three victims of this view, he say: the Church – despite the bishops’ courage in commissioning an independent report; the people who have been sexually assaulted; and the service of truth.

Sauvé has invited the Academy to undertake a study on sexual violence in our society and in the Catholic Church in particular.


Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , ,