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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

583 We must look all this in the face if we want to be able to change it.

Day 583 Tuesday, October 19, 2021

We must look all this in the face if we want to be able to change it. It is as terrible as it is fundamental.

The Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the French Catholic Church released its report on clerical child abuse on October 5th. After two and a half years of research, the report reveals that more than 300,000 children have been sexually abused by priests and religious since the 1950s.

“Telling the truth is like open-heart surgery: you risk your skin, but if you don’t, you risk death.” This is how Sister Véronique Margron, president of the Conference of Religious Men and Women of France addressed the extreme importance of the report on child crime in the Catholic Church.

(Jean-Marc Sauvé delivers the report of child sex abuse by French clerics)

Jean-Marc Sauvé the leader of the research team had already made public that the number of identified predators is “2,900 to 3,200” men – priests or religious – a “minimum estimate”, he says.

Just before the report was released, Sr Véronique Margron spoke out:

“It is necessary to quantify, but also to document, to understand what went wrong in governance within the French Church: its training, and all who have participated in the silence (omerta), secrecy, and minimization of the facts, “she said.” We must look all this in the face if ‘we want to be able to change it. It is as terrible as it is fundamental. “

“For several years, we have been trying to do something about these tragedies and these crimes”, explains Sister Véronique, who concedes that the Church’s efforts have so far been “clumsy” and “fragmentary”.

The weight of clericalism, silence on the phenomena of influence… the commission also evaluated the “mechanisms, in particular institutional and cultural”, which could favor this pedocriminality. “These are correlations and not a single cause”, explains Sr Véronique, evoking above all “the culture of secrecy” and the “excess of sacralization of priests and religious”.

“All these elements participated in these crimes and in the fact that they were concealed or so minimized that we did not even see that they were crimes: we considered that as sins. However, rape is a crime. “

The presentation of the report is the first step. “It is a question of looking the disaster in the face”, affirms Sr Véronique. “It is never easy to watch a disaster, especially when it is a disaster committed in your own home.”

She continues “the first step in initiating change is to look at the truth, and the victims, straight in the eyes. “If we don’t do this, we are sure to remain in the lie, and therefore in a total betrayal of the gospel,” she said. “Like open-heart surgeries, they are highly risky operations, but essential so that there are no more casualties.

(Sr Véronique Margron speaks out on child sex abuse in the French Church)

Pope Francis reacted immediately:

The day after the report was released Francis prayed privately with four French bishops who were visiting Rome. They described it as a particularly intense moment. During the audience itself, Francis again mentioned the abuse report – this time publicly and with heartfelt emotion. It was his way of telling the French bishops that he supports them in their ordeal, but that they must now devise in-depth measures to ensure that such tragedies never happen again.

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