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French bishops will sell Church “assets” to compensate victims of abuse

Los obispos franceses venderán "bienes" de la Iglesia para indemnizar a víctimas de abusos

French bishops will sell "goods" of the Church or they will resort to a loan to compensate victims of pedophiles, they decided this Monday at the end of their annual meeting, in which they asked Pope Francis for help.

After recognizing the "institutional responsibility" of the Church on the sexual abuse of minors in France, which an independent commission estimated at more than 216,000 since 1950, now laid the groundwork for compensation.

"The bishops decided to nurture this fund" compensation "shedding the real estate of the Episcopal Conference of France and the dioceses"said its president Éric de Moulins-Beaufort.

Diocesan officials also decided "take out a loan to anticipate needs" if necessary, De Moulins-Beaufort added at a press conference at the end of their annual meeting in Lourdes (south).

Although they ruled out resorting to the money donated by the faithful to the Church, Vice President Dominique Blanchet specified that they cannot prevent any believer "mobilize to enter this restorative justice mode".

These resolutions were adopted after a week of debate in this Marian pilgrimage center, where some 120 bishops examined the report of the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church (Ciase).

Another of the decisions adopted is to entrust the French jurist Marie Derain de Vaucresson, former defender of minors, with the constitution of an independent national body, which will be in charge of instructing the lawsuits.

"Financial repair will be part of the answer, but not automatically", He told the newspaper La Croix Derain de Vaucresson, to whom the prelates gave free rein to form their team and its operation.

"Some [víctimas] They expressed the simple need to know if their aggressor was still alive, others to know a person related to their situation: the aggressor himself or the bishop of that time"he explained.


On Friday, the French bishops already recognized the "institutional responsibility" of the Church and the "systemic dimension" of these attacks, in line with what was proposed by the Ciase.

"It was about time we took this step"said the head of the Episcopal Conference, for whom the decision is a "release", since it shows that the Church is not an institution "mired in self-glorification".

Among its 45 proposals, the independent commission in October urged the Church to recognize its responsibility "systemic", social and civil and to launch acts of recognition to the victims such as masses or memorials.

To finance compensation for victims, he called for discarding donations from the faithful, like the victims, and doing it instead "from the heritage of the aggressors and the Church of France".

The episcopate announced that they will send the commission’s recommendations to Pope Francis, whom they also asked to send to "someone you trust" to examine how it was cared for and cared for "to the victims and their aggressors".

Other measures adopted is the verification "systematic" of the judicial record of any person, religious or secular, who works with minors, as well as the creation of a canonical criminal court for April.

Victims welcomed the bishops’ announcements.

"It’s very positive"said Jean-Luc Souveton, one of the five victims present in Lourdes at the start of the meeting, "it is a real recognition of the expectations of the victims".

"There is a change in the attitude of the bishops"said Michel, another victim.

After the impact of the report in France, the controversy continued after controversial statements by De Moulins-Beaufort assuring that the confidentiality of confession is above the law, even in cases of pedophilia.

The Ciase asked the Church to make it clear that confession secrecy does not cover these crimes. The bishops promised to work on the proposals related to canon law, but they need Vatican approval.


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