French bishops pledge to expose paedophilia

2016-04-12 18:02
Roman Catholic Cardinal, Archbishop of Lyon Philippe Barbarin leads a mass in Saint-Jean cathedral in Lyon. (Jeff Pachoud, AFP)

Roman Catholic Cardinal, Archbishop of Lyon Philippe Barbarin leads a mass in Saint-Jean cathedral in Lyon. (Jeff Pachoud, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Paris - The Catholic Church in France on Tuesday pledged to shed light on all cases of paedophilia, including "historic cases", following a scandal over an archbishop accused of covering up a priest's crimes.

Bishops decided that special groups would be set up to listen to complaints from victims of sexual abuse and an "independent national commission" would be set up to investigate, led by a lay person.

"Individual cases remain in our dioceses, even historic cases, and we need to shed light on them," said Archbishop Georges Pontier, president of the French bishops conference.

"We pledge to do this work just as we treat cases brought to our attention, particularly by victims," he said.

So-called "listening cells" will be set up in every diocese to hear complaints from victims, Pontier added.

The measures were announced after the case of Archbishop of Lyon Philippe Barbarin re-opened the debate about paedophilia in the Church in France.

Barbarin is the focus of two investigations focusing on accusations that he failed to inform prosecutors about Bernard Preynat, a priest who has admitted sexually abusing boy scouts he was supervising in the Lyon area of central France more than 25 years ago.

Preynat was charged in January after confessing he had abused children.

A group of victims has criticised Barbarin for failing to report Preynat to the authorities, even though he was made aware of the allegations against him in 2007.

The diocese did not remove Preynat from ministry until 2015.

Since the Preynat case has come to light, other allegations of sexual abuse by priests in the Lyon diocese have emerged.

Barbarian, one of the highest-profile figures in the French Church, said last month he had "never covered up paedophilia".

'We must co-operate' 

Under increasing pressure, he has asked for "forgiveness" for what he called Preynat's "abominable crimes", but insists he did nothing wrong.

It is the worst scandal to hit the Catholic Church in France since a bishop was convicted in 2001 for failing to report abuse.

Another bishop came under attack last week when he refused to describe paedophilia as a "sin".

Stanislas Lalanne, the bishop of Pontoise outside Paris, later tried to clarify his position, saying "paedophilia, in every case, is objectively serious".

Writing in Le Monde newspaper on Tuesday, the archbishop said the Church now had a "better understanding of the depth of the hurt inflicted" by abuse and admitted: "We have not always done a good job of managing the cases in the best way."

He wrote: "We must co-operate fully with the judicial authorities and we must listen to the victims in an open and caring way."

The Catholic Church has been rocked by sexual abuse scandals in recent years, especially in Ireland, the United States and Mexico.

Pope Francis has said dealing with abuse is vital for the Church's credibility and that perpetrators must face "sanctions".

Read more on:    france  |  religion  |  child abuse

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.