Beatitudes Community – probe into troubled past

Community of the Beatitudes

The Beatitudes Community’s murky past is under the spotlight.

A series of scandals has been casting a shady light on some members.

The Community, which has links to New Zealand, is a 50-year-old French Catholic group. It was inspired by the Catholic Charismatic movement

Located in Leithfield, North Canterbury, the Beatitudes Community is in the Christchurch diocese. The group has been in New Zealand since 1994.

The Community of the Beatitudes is present in twenty-six countries.

It brings together in one spiritual family of sisters, brothers, priests, and married and single lay people. They all share a fraternal life, a life of prayer and mission with a purpose to follow Christ on the path of the Beatitudes.

Independent Commission announced

The group’s recent general assembly in France agreed an Independent Commission was needed to investigate the abuse.

They were prompted by delegates discussing concerns about sexual abuse and abuse of conscience that may have taken place within the community.

Despite victims’ “high expectations”, no timetable for the investigation has yet been set.

We felt the time was right

“From the very first speeches [at the assembly], we felt the time was right for this review for which the community was not ready at the previous assembly four years ago,” said Sister Lætitia du Cœur de Jésus, who is in charge of communications.

The Commission’s aims are to shed light on serious shortcomings and deviances within the community.

The Commission will liaise with historian Tangi Cavalin. He has been investigating “the role of the Dominican institution” in dealing with the sexual and spiritual abuse committed by Dominican brothers Marie-Dominique and Thomas Philippe.

Cavalin has also been involved in the matter of the L’Arche Community and Jean Vanier.

Spiritual and sexual abuse

In 2011, the French Community of the Beatitudes admitted that its founder Gerard Croissant was a sexual abuser.

Then in 2013, the French bishops expressed surprise that “Spiritual abuse,” had been inflicted by the lay founders, or religious superiors, using their aura and spiritual power often on young and fragile personalities.

Among those identified by the French bishops were fourteen new ecclesial (church) communities, including the Beatitudes Community.

Others, including The Legion of Christ, the Community of St John, and Hearts have seen formal charges of misconduct lodged primarily against their founders.

Victims considered

The Beatitudes Community international meeting also discussed measures to be taken for victims.

These measures include completing the contact details for listening centres indicated on the Community website.

Those at the meeting lso considered decisions that could be taken in the coming months, particularly concerning compensation.

Victims network

In addition, a network for Community of the Beatitudes victims was founded on October 9.

It was established after the new national canonical criminal tribunal said it had received “a canonical mandate from the dioceses of Albi, Saint-Dié and Toulouse.”

The mandate is “to continue the preliminary investigation into various cases involving certain members of the Community of the Beatitudes.”


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