Pope warns against “interpretation” of report on abuses by French clergy


Pope Francis called for caution in “interpreting” a damning report on child sexual abuse by French Catholic clergy, saying a “historic situation” must be seen in context.

A historic investigation supervised by an independent commission confirmed in October numerous sexual abuses of minors by priests in France dating from the years 1950 to 2020.

“When you do this kind of study, you have to be attentive to the interpretation you make of it,” the 84-year-old pontiff told reporters aboard his flight back from a trip to Greece.

“100 years ago, 70 years ago, the abuse was brutality. But the way it was experienced is not the same as it is today,” he said.

“For example, in the case of abuse in the church, the attitude was to cover up – an attitude that unfortunately still exists today in many families.”

He added that the “historical situation” must be interpreted according to the standards of the time.

When the gossip grows, grows, grows and takes away a person’s reputation, that man will not be able to rule … and that is an injustice

The Pope, who after the report was released expressed “shame”, revealed he had not read it himself but would discuss it with the French bishops when they visit later this month .

Dealing with the avalanche of revelations about sexual abuse by priests was one of the biggest challenges Francis faced when he was elected Pope in 2013.

François Devaux, head of an association of victims in France, expressed his disbelief in the face of the Pope’s “sorry” lack of interest in the French investigation.

“It will show everyone that the Pope is at the heart of the problem,” Devaux told AFP, calling his remarks “ignorance, stupidity and denial”.

Thank you. You are now subscribed to the daily newsletter

The Pope also condemned “the injustice” of the recent resignation of Michel Aupetit, the archbishop of Paris. Aupetit, 70, resigned following media reports of an intimate relationship with a woman, which he categorically denied.

A spokeswoman for the diocese said at the time that “he behaved ambiguously with someone he was very close to”, adding that it was “not a romantic relationship” or a sexual one.

“When the gossip grows, grows, grows and takes away a person’s reputation, that man will not be able to rule… and that is an injustice,” François said.

“This is why I accepted Aupetit’s resignation, not on the altar of truth, but on the altar of hypocrisy. cannot condemn, ”the Pope added, urging reporters to investigate.

He said Aupetit had been condemned by “public opinion, rumors. But what did he do? We don’t know”.

However, the Pope referred to a violation of the Sixth Commandment – a ban on adultery – saying it was “not total, but small caresses and massages that he gave to his secretary”.

“It is a sin. But it is not the most serious because the sins of the flesh are not the most serious,” he said.

He added: “Aupetit is a sinner. As I am, like Peter, the bishop on whom Christ founded his Church.

In a statement last week, when the Pope accepted his offer, Aupetit said he wanted to “protect the diocese from the division which still causes mistrust and loss of confidence”.

Support UCA News …

… .As we move into the final months of 2021, we ask readers like you to help us keep UCA News free.

For 40 years, UCA News has remained Asia’s most trusted and independent Catholic news and information service. Every week, we publish nearly 100 news Exclusive and in-depth reports, features, commentary, podcasts and video broadcasts, developed from a world view and the Church through discerning Catholic eyes.

Our journalistic standards are as high as those of the quality press; we are particularly focused on a rapidly growing part of the world – Asia – where in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can meet – South Korea, Vietnam and India for n ‘name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters covering 23 countries in South, South-East and East Asia. We report the stories of the local people and their experiences in a way that the Western media simply does not have the resources to reach. And we report the dawning life of new Churches in ancient lands where being Catholic can sometimes be very dangerous.

With declining support from financial partners in Europe and the United States, we need to appeal for support from those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out how you can support UCA News. You can tell the difference for as little as US $ 5 …


Comments are closed.