It is this Monday, November 8 that the bishops of France, meeting in Lourdes in plenary assembly, must vote and announce the answers they intend to give to the Sauvé report. This report on sexual abuse committed in the Church since 1950 was the subject of much discussion throughout the week, especially on the financial side. On Friday November 5, Mgr Luc Crepy, Bishop of Versailles, promised “Strong gestures” and a “Precise schedule” measures to be implemented.
→ THE FACTS. Sexual abuse: in Lourdes, the Church of France recognizes its “institutional responsibility”
Long-awaited, these decisions must confirm the displayed commitment of the bishops they were keen to express as of Friday noon through the public recognition of their institutional responsibility in these abuses, their systemic nature as well as a necessary remedy.
” A very good news “
This solemn announcement, made by Bishop Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, the president of the episcopal conference, was widely welcomed. “This is very good news, I did not expect it so soon”, confided Father Jean-Luc Souveton, himself the victim of a pedophile priest, while François Devaux, co-founder of La parole libérée, greeted a “Essential first step”.
Such recognition was not acquired yet a week ago. At the end of the extraordinary assembly they had held on this subject in March, the bishops said they were ready to assume their responsibility. ” for the future “, by fighting for the prevention of these abuses, but not for the past and the faults of their predecessors. The turning point was crossed Thursday afternoon, November 4, during a closed session during which they were able to share, without masks, the emotions and the suffering that the discovery of the report caused in everyone. An experiment “Spiritual”, according to some, which brought down a large part of the last resistances and allowed them a “True communion”, manifested the next day in a “Massive vote”.
→ ANALYSIS. Sexual abuse: in Lourdes, lay people between fears and hopes
“They broke the armor”, were also able to observe the laity invited to participate in crossroads with the episcopate, Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. “We saw them in a vulnerable position. They did not hide it and it opened up a very true and fraternal collaboration ”, assures Louis-Etienne de Labarthe, member of Emmanuel associated with Promesses d’Église.
Great freedom of tone
This recognition has indeed freed up speech and work with the laity. The exchanges were marked by a great freedom of tone. “We went there cash, there was no pseudo-protocol deference”, welcomes Arnaud Bouthéon, co-founder of the Mission Congress. Guests expressed the anger of the faithful and their expectations of a real work of repair which is costing the Church. “I clearly said that I did not understand that certain bishops did not postpone their office the day after the Sauvé report”, testifies a participant.
“It was good to hear the pain of the bishops, their concern, unfiltered. They seemed happy not to be alone ”, recognizes Clémence Pasquier, 27 years old. Engaged in the pastoral care of young people in Lyon, she nevertheless emerges with mixed feelings, between hope and fears. “Most were listening but failed to communicate their intention to us well. There is still a lack of method, of vision, which has led to frustration. We didn’t know what our word was going to be used for and we don’t know it yet. We have to learn to collaborate. “
The need to appeal to the laity
Some participants also regretted that the working sessions with the bishops were not longer. Saturday morning, the restitution of the many ideas evoked quickly the day before during a workshop dedicated to the recommendations of the Ciase gave the impression of an abundance in all directions. However, the need emerged for the bishops not to remain alone but to have recourse to the varied expertise of the laity.
The recognition by the bishops of their institutional responsibility gave consistency to the memorial and penitential time organized on Saturday morning. Without doubt one of the strongest moments of this Assembly. “O God, forgive us for not having understood that the power that you give us requires a flawless exemplarity. Forgive us for taking your mercy for tolerance of evil », Read Mgr Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, kneeling in front of the Basilica of the Rosary, at the foot of a large Red Cross erected for the occasion.
Unlike the penitential ceremony they organized in November 2016, the bishops did not ask forgiveness from the victims this time around. ” The time for forgiveness has not yet come until reparation is initiated, explains Brigitte Navail, one of the victims with whom they prepared this penitential moment, it is a process of which this day is the first step “.
An abusive priest concelebrates the televised mass
The daily Release revealed, Friday November 5, that a priest convicted of sexual assault in 2007 had concelebrated the televised mass for the show the Day of the Lord, on France 2, Sunday October 24. Father A., who that day read a prayer intention for victims of sexual violence in the Church, had resumed pastoral activity under certain conditions as vicar in the diocese of Nanterre (Hauts-de-Seine). This media exposure aroused great emotion, especially in his diocese of origin, in Nancy. Mgr Matthieu Rougé, bishop of Nanterre, withdrew all ministry to him. In the Sauvé report, the follow-up of abusing priests is the first of 45 recommendations.