French bishop covers up his sexual abuse in Confessional

spiritual abuse

The Vatican has been informed of a French bishop’s alleged spiritual abuse for sexual purposes.

Bishop Michel Santier (pictured), was quietly disciplined by the Vatican and, in 2021, he reported to his diocese he resigned for “health reasons”.

However, the weekly Famille Chrétienne revealed Santier was also removed for “using his influence over two young adult men for sexual purposes” in the 1990s and abusing the sacrament of confession.

The Vatican ordered him to live “a life of prayer and penance” in an abbey in Normandy.

However, Archbishop Dominique Lebrun, Santier’s metropolitan archbishop, announced last week that “other people” have since had come forward with allegations against Santier.

They claim the retired bishop had sexually abused them when they were young adults.

“Yesterday (October 19) after having heard directly from one of these victims, I immediately sent a report to the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith via the apostolic nunciature,” Lebrun said.

“There is no doubt that the dicastery will conduct a new investigation in the face of revelations that accentuate the seriousness of the facts of which Bishop Michel Santier is accused.”

Santier resigned from his post two years earlier than the customary age of 75.

In a letter to his flock in June 2020, he explained that “the polluted air of the Paris region” did not suit him and had led to diagnoses of asthma and sleep apnoea.

He had been hospitalised with COVID-19 in April that year.

“I don’t have the physical strength to continue my ministry among you until I am 75 years old”, he said at the time. He also hinted he had undergone “other difficulties,” but didn’t specify what these were.

These difficulties, Catholic magazine Famille Chrétienne reported earlier this month, were linked to the “spiritual abuse for sexual purposes perpetrated against two adult men” in the 1990s.

French bishops confirmed that Rome took “disciplinary action” against Santier in October 2021 for the acts, which emerged in 2019. The two men asked to remain anonymous.

Last Friday, the French bishops’ conference president, Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, acknowledged the revelations had provoked “shock” among French Catholics.

“The feeling of betrayal, the temptation to be discouraged are emotions that I understand and that run through us, as well as the incomprehension and anger of many before the acts themselves,” he said.

“I also hear and receive the criticisms made about the lack of communication of the Roman measures when they were enacted.

“There can be no impunity in the Church, regardless of the function of the person involved.”

Moulins-Beaufort said the French bishops would be reflecting on the way investigation results are communicated to Catholics when they meet at their plenary assembly in Lourdes next week.

“We will bring to Rome the fruit of our reflections and our proposals to improve what can be improved,” he said.

French Catholics have learned of a series of abuse scandals in recent years.

The Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church (CIASE) concluded in 2021 that as many as 330,000 children were abused from 1950 to 2020 in the French Catholic Church.

The French bishops then promised to undertake “a vast programme of renewal” of their governance practices.


Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , , , , ,