France: Sexual abuse and pedophilia: A day of awareness and sharing organized by Corref

on 15 Jun, 2018
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Paris (France), 06/12/2018, Corref.- On Monday, June 11th, the Conference of men and women religious of France (Corref), organized a day of awareness and sharing on the theme: “Sexual abuse and pedophilia”. This day has been in the planning of Corref, which had been involved for many years with these questions. In the assembly: 120 men and women religious, responsible for their institutes of apostolic and monastic life.

The day began with the witness of three persons who were victims. They shared their painful stories, their relationship with the Church and their faith, and the great need to listen to the victims “eye to eye”. They also insisted on the trust that was tarnished by the abuse to which they were submitted and the silence of our institutions. They asked that all of us enter into a process of truthfulness.

The round table discussion in the afternoon enabled us to have a dialogue between the assembly and the experts: Mme Geneviève de Taisne, psychoanalyst, Counselor Maître Bertrand Ollivier, advocate, Fr. Achille Mestre, canon lawyer and Sr Véronique Margron, president of Corref. This was an opportunity to ask questions and share experiences with each other. Many themes were touched: creating awareness and prevention, welcoming and listening to the victims, the attitude toward offenders, accompaniment of persons and the civil and canonical procedures.

At the end of the day, this sharing of experiences was enriched by the witness from a religious on the procedures set up in his institute. He repeated about priority for the victims, the importance of being transparent and the work related to prevention for the young and more vulnerable persons. On this day we took an important step in our religious life through our determination to support the journey of recovery for the victims and the desire to pursue the commitment to assume its responsibilities.

Sister Veronique Margron, op addressed the major superiors of the Congregations of men and women religious who were present and called them “to work for a Church which is more transparent”. After emphasizing the importance of listening to the grief which is “specific and traumatic, which will not be erased nor pacified” the president of Corref asked us to be alert on three points: Truth, “we now have the obligation to be vigilant to speak a language of truth and to renounce double talk which the sociologists name as the ‘culture of docility’”; faith, “adult abusers stole God from their victims. How can we help the victims believe that God is really good, near and alive when he seemed to be absent during the drama?”; the Church; be involved in this slow and painful work for victims, so that “they can own once again the Scriptures, Sacraments and life in the Church...”