Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

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Bishop Eric de Moulins-Beaufort

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New French bishops’ head follows pope in linking sex abuse crisis to power abuse

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

April 9, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Homosexual activist Frédéric Martel is at it again. Shortly after the election of the new president of the French Bishops conference, Bishop Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, Martel retweeted a short clip from a TV interview with the bishop in Lourdes where the bishops were holding their general assembly, accusing him of “disastrous” words about homosexuality.

The retweeted excerpt had been published with this comment: “Staggering comments by @Mgr_EMB, new president of the French bishops conference, former parish priest of St. Paul in the Marais #Paris4, who makes a link between homosexuality, transgenderism, and recent pedophilia cases in the Church.”

Frédéric Martel commented in turn: “The disastrous, absurd and incompetent declarations of the new president of the French bishops conference, Eric de Moulins-Beaufort @Mgr_EMB, former parish priest of the gay neighborhood of the Marais. With that, he's going to make his entry into the re-edition of my book #SODOMA. Poor Church of France!”

In Sodoma (in English: In the Closet of the Vatican), Martel claims that a vast majority of Catholic cardinals, bishops, priests and seminarians in the Vatican, and to some extent elsewhere, are closeted homosexuals who are all the more strict in their affirmation that homosexuality is evil because they are hiding their own “orientation.” The book is full of approximations and innuendo, primarily accusing those who uphold traditional morality.

The same method was used by Martel on Twitter. Calling Bishop de Moulins-Beaufort a “former parish priest of the gay neighborhood of the Marais,” for instance, Martel suggested that he was at the head of a gay-friendly parish. But this was not the case. The Parisian church of Saint-Paul is at the edge of the historic and expensive Marais neighborhood that has been largely taken over by the homosexual community, but the closest Paris has to a gay-friendly parish is that of Saint-Merri, near the Beaubourg Center farther west.

The clip itself – which is not sourced and only contains a short, probably truncated statement by Moulins-Beaufort – is very far from proving that the bishop would have made a link between homosexuality and sex-abuse cases involving minors.

The bishop said: “As for me, I think that the criminalization of homosexuality looks like a misguided path. Homosexuality is a complex phenomenon that we don't know how to analyze properly today. On my part, I think that we – and when I say ‘we’ I'm talking about we, the Church but perhaps also society in general – have a lack of  analytical tools. We would try to make it out for a form of sexuality among others, because there would also be transgenderism and a whole range of other possibilities. We see a whole lot of suffering there. What impresses me personally, in the affairs of these last months, is the revelation of all the violence that sexuality contains.”

Whatever the bishop was saying here, he is certainly not talking about a link between homosexuality and sex abuse.

But his quote attracted dozens of angry and insulting comments, probably because of the word “suffering,” which is more or less taboo when used in the context of homosexuality. Casting a shadow on the homosexual lifestyle or even suggesting that being “gay” is a lot less gay than it seems is equated with considering homosexuality to be a problem and not a new norm.

Lack of clarity was one of the reasons the “Manif pour tous” in France failed in its attempts to stop the legalization of same-sex “marriage.” Some of the organizers, who were also the most visible ones, at least put a lot of energy in preventing spokespeople from talking about the suffering or unhappiness of homosexual persons, either during press conferences or at the famous pink and blue marches through Paris. The idea was that you should acknowledge the “love” and “value” of homosexual relationships while opposing same-sex “marriage” in order to prevent children from growing up with “two mothers” or “two fathers.”

Ironically, Moulins-Beaufort recently wrote a lengthy article about the sex-abuse scandal and the “sideration” of the Catholic Church that prevented it from taking necessary action. In the August 2018 number of the Nouvelle Revue Théologique, a Belgian Catholic academic publication, he reflected on the theme: “What has happened to us?” His 26-page article does not include a single mention of homosexuality or same-sex attraction.

Instead, he made a distinction between pedophilia, collecting pornographic images of children and ephebophilia on the one hand, which he presents as involving a relatively small number of offending priests, at least in France, and on the other hand “not directly sexual acts” of improper or ambiguous familiarity with certain adolescents, boys or girls over whom the largest category of offending priests had some sort of psychological power. Full-fledged rape with penetration was presented as a possible outcome of these attitudes but not as a systematic one.

Concerning (rare) cases of pedophilia among priests, Moulins-Beaufort explained in his article that they are linked to particular “sexual urges” that can explain their primary interest for the priesthood, which allows for proximity between adults and children, and he added that “the hope that the man having such urges can be healed seems very limited.”

He also wrote: “Perhaps there is also a generational effect, as some of the rhetoric of the 1970s, even at academic level, could be seen as having encouraged sexual initiation at an early age,” making clear however that these urges are always “compulsive.”

In France, the clerical sex-abuse scandal is generally referred to as the “pedophile priests’ scandal.” This terminology, wrote Moulins-Beaufort, “has certainly not helped to confront the global problem.”

On the subject of true pedophiles, the bishop wondered whether they could truly accede to the priesthood.

“Study is necessary and surely also a canonical clarification: is it possible to simply consider null and void the ordination of a man whose pedophilic personality is revealed later on, as if the grace of the priestly character could not truly ‘attach’ itself to such a structure?” he asked> “If this were true – and it remains to be established – the implementation of this point would require, in the case of sexual abuse or aggression, carefully to distinguish between structurally pedophilic personalities and sexually immature personalities who would have been pushed by circumstance to commit one or more grave acts but who in other circumstances would not have fallen.”

Regarding pornographic addiction, Moulins-Beaufort regretted that many offenders did not realize that the children depicted had suffered abuse of which they were in truth accomplices.

On the chapter of ephebophilia, which he said manifests itself as a desire to touch the genitals of adolescent males, no mention is made of homosexuality or a disordered same-sex attraction.

As to the most frequent abuse cases, he said they involve ambiguous physical contact that “sometimes” lead to sexual contact, which in turn “often, but not always, do not reach the state of penetration.” He explained that in many cases, priests who were appreciated by young people and their families — and who were fascinated by their personal power to allow young people's intelligence and qualities to develop — also in a context of the “blindness that comes with sin,” allowed themselves to be carried away and even to deny the gravity of the sins committed.

Why didn't the Church talk about this? The desire to “protect the institution” is not a sufficient explanation, said the bishop. From sheer disbelief on the part of the authorities to requests for silence coming from the hurt families themselves, he said many different scenarios existed at a time when the lasting consequences of sexual abuse during childhood were not correctly assessed.

An interesting part of his commentary talked about forgiveness, of which an “important element” has been neglected, he said. “This negligence says something about the spiritual state of the times in which we live.”

The element of “reparation” of evil is not taken into account enough, even when “Christ's own mercy never consists in letting us think that sin is not so serious, but on the contrary in revealing its mortiferous character in the very act through which he forgives us, so that we can become actors of our own conversion, slowly acquiring a true detestation of sin and the desire to live otherwise.”

He recalled how in the Middle Ages the guilty were prepared to commit themselves to lifelong expiation.

“After all, in a world marked by sin, the fact that persons who sinned gravely, causing a social disorder, should accept that their sin deprive them from an accomplishment they had dreamed of in their lives, is properly Christian,” he explained, adding that it was necessary to “accept that forgiveness does not get rid of the consequences of sin but on the contrary, helps to bear their burden without being crushed by it.”

Moulins-Beaufort also reflected on the necessity of chastity in different walks of life: a virtue that has been badly affected, he said, by the disappearance of codes of conduct among people in authority and their subordinates, between men and women. These codes ended up at the end of the 19th century by going into “details that turned into a mania” before disappearing almost completely at the end of the 20th century. Now “it is up to everyone to determine which relationship they want with this or that other,” he said.

Concerning chastity, he wrote: “An effort of serious reflection and attention needs to take place so that men and women, adults and children acquire a sense of chastity that not only consists in avoiding sexual gestures but rather leads people to be in a true relationship regarding others, which leaves the other in true freedom.”

While the bishop’s reflections deserve thought, they do leave aside a number of factors that other serious observers have not failed to point out, such as the imprudent ordination of homosexual young men and the presence of gay subcultures in certain church institutions.

When Martel fumed at Moulin-Beaufort’s words about homosexuality that in fact were not linked to the sex-abuse crisis in the Church, he didn't realize the bishop is more on the line of Pope Francis and the recent sex abuse summit in the Vatican that also left the problem of homosexuality unaddressed.

Moulins-Beaufort has a reputation for conservatism – more so, in any case, than his predecessor at the head of the French bishops conference, Bishop Georges Pontier of Marseille. But in his article on sex abuse, he wrote:

The liturgy of our time leaves less room for the risk of seeing in the priest the possessor of an esoteric knowledge, beyond access for the ordinary mortal. It purifies a great deal of the sacred aura and the daunting ambiguities that are attached to it, favoring instead the service of sanctification of the people of God according to the alliance wanted by the holy God who will leave no fault unpunished. On the same lines, canon law imposes that the burden of leading a parish or the whole Christian community should be taken up in a relationship of communion marked by giving responsibility to councils, be they pastoral or economical.

Such incrimination, even if it remains discrete, of the solemn ancient form of the liturgy is questionable to say the least. Without using the word “clericalism,” the evil to which Pope Francis ascribes responsibility for the present sex abuse scandals, the Bishop of Reims and new head of the French bishops looks as if he is treading the party line.

In a former article, days before Moulins-Beaufort was elected president of the bishops conference, LifeSite published an account of his participation at the official opening of the Grand Mosque of Reims.

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