France crushed and dissolved the bishops

“Our generation took the cross to live this time”, noted Bishop Eric de Moulins-Beaufort in his closing address to the Plenary Assembly. From Thursday, November 3, the bishops gathered in Lourdes planned to work on the structural reform of the Conference of French Bishops (CEF). The revelation of the condemnation of one of their own, Mgr Michel Santier “Moral exploitation for sexual purposes”the sanction remained hidden for a long time, subverting the program.

shame and anger

“We are faced with mixed anger, shame, helplessness, misunderstanding, perhaps mistrust between us and the anger, shame, discouragement, and fatigue of the believers”, recognized the CEF president at the opening of the session. Not even imagining for a moment that another issue would arise in the very center of the working week.

Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard acknowledged in his message on Saturday evening, November 5, that “unusual behavior” against a 14-year-old girl when he was a priest in Marseilles thirty-five years ago. Bishop de Moulins-Beaufort’s letter to the Assembly of Bishops on Sunday, November 6, before his press release the following day. He abandoned this new scandal to carry out a “truth operation”: thus, in recent years, eight bishops have been involved in cases of sexual abuse, and three have not denied sexual abuse.


Five of the bishops involved in the attacks have been identified, while the other three are known to only a handful of people. The bishops were not given further information, the CEF president urged to respect the confidentiality of the instruction. The bishops, who have devoted much of their work to analyzing the Santier case and then reacting to Cardinal Ricard’s reception, are still worried about other possible cases. “This is the torture of the Chinese. Drop by drop, we learn more every month…” sighs, distraught, one of them. “We leave (Lourdes) more determined than ever”Bishop de Moulins-Beaufort insisted to the press.

Since then, the questions have continued to mount. In the letter addressed to the faithful, the bishops say “broken and determined”. In order to combat these situations, the council decided to create an “oversight board” consisting of legal experts, psychologists, and lay people, mainly to accompany bishops who had to denounce a colleague. In order to prevent these dysfunctions characterized by the two mentioned cases, the follow-up council will allow “Any archbishop or bishop involved in the case of another bishop for abuse or sexual harassment should be accompanied at all stages of the procedure. We will also work with the relevant Rome departments to clarify procedures and establish more precise criteria for the publication of facts and sanctions.” advanced Bishop de Moulins-Beaufort.

God’s people

He also insisted “adulthood” The people of God who do not tolerate that a rude priest can celebrate the Eucharist in France: God’s people can endure the discovery of the faults of their pastors, however painful it may be, and it is more severe for them to remain ignorant of a lie. »

The reporting office that Pope Francis has requested in each country from his motu proprio Your beautiful world (2019) – to be established at the national level. An ecclesiastical criminal court with national jurisdiction, which was decided after the publication of the Sauvé report and whose statute was adopted this week, could begin in December, arresting priests for alleged crimes.

“We must be more precise in our exchanges with the Holy See”, the president of the CEF noted and reminded that he has no authority over the bishops. He invited the bishops to reconsider: “We must all admit that neither position nor honor restrains us from committing errors, some of which may be serious even to the justice of the state, and that every man may always be possessed by uneasy forces over which he cannot control. control. »

End of life

During the press conference, the Bishop of Nanterre, Bishop Matthieu Rougé, spoke again, presenting the pastoral letter published by the bishops on the debate on the end of life. O death, where is your victory? Mgr Nicolas Brouwet, Bishop of Nîmes, briefly presented the CEF reform as well as the reflection on the motu proprio. Traditions are preservedOn the application of the traditional mass according to the 1962 missal.

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