(LifeSiteNews) — “Anger” is the word used again and again by French Catholics interviewed by the media since yet another sex abuse scandal within the clergy was revealed earlier this week by the present head of the Bishops Conference, Archbishop Eric de Moulins-Beaufort.
People are no longer only sad or shocked: they are angry at what appears to be an ongoing cover-up of sordid actions on the part of bishops, one year after the “CIASE” report revealed the (albeit probably overestimated) extent of child abuse by priests, religious and employees of the Catholic Church since the 1950s. After the report’s release, the Church hierarchy in France committed to better and more transparent management of such cases. Twelve months later, a highly respected French cardinal is under the spotlight for misconduct with a 14-year-old girl, 35 years ago.
Another bishop, Michel Santier, was revealed a few weeks ago to have abused two young adult males during confession. Eric de Moulins-Beaufort also spoke of this case; he did not know that three days later, on Thursday, a parish priest from Brittany would be arrested after he allegedly drugged and raped a 15-year-old boy on November 3.
All in all, recalled Moulins-Beaufort, “six French bishops known to you are under challenges before the courts, be they civil or canonical; to these must be added the cases of Bishop Santier and Bishop Ricard. Two others who are no longer in [service] are under investigation… [A]nother has been reported to justice.” That adds up to nine bishops, plus two who were accused of covering cases of abuse.
The French press has hinted that other bishops could soon “fall.”
Cdl. Jean-Pierre Ricard guilty of ‘reprehensible conduct with a young girl’
The case of Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, however, was the straw that broke the camel’s back for French Catholics. This scandal was brought to the light by Bishop de Moulins-Beaufort during a surprise press conference last Monday, on the fourth day of the yearly general assembly of the French bishops in Lourdes. Their president made a lengthy declaration during which he read Ricard’s short public confession stating that he had been guilty of “reprehensible conduct with a young girl aged 14, 35 years ago.”
“Now that the Church in France has the desire to listen to victims and to act in truth, I have decided no longer to remain silent about my situation and to put myself at the disposal of the judiciary, both at societal and Church levels. This is a difficult step to take. But what comes first is the suffering experienced by victims and the acknowledgment of the acts that took place, without hiding my own responsibility from view,” his statement said. Ricard added that he had begged forgiveness of the girl and of her family to which he had been close at the time of the assault, the exact nature of which he did not reveal. He is said to have admitted to having “kissed” the girl.
After the bombshell revelation in Lourdes, the president of the conference of male and female religious in France, Sister Véronique Margron, who has been in contact with the woman since last February, told the media that the cardinal’s victim had undergone “an extremely grave” and “very violent” trauma; she also spoke of an “enormous shock.” Margron added that it was “very possible” that Ricard may have “downplayed” the nature of the acts he admitted to, and added that it was “unthinkable” that he should remain a cardinal.
***MAJOR UPDATE, November 10, 2022*** LifeSiteNews reported the bombshell statement issued by Archbishop Viganò, declaring that members of the “Bergoglian church” are no longer in union with the Church of Christ.
According to Archbishop Viganò:
the visible church, to which the world gives the name of Catholic Church and of which it considers Bergoglio as Pope, is no longer Church...
This statement was long overdue, and Archbishop Viganò is finally sounding the alarm — Pope Francis is leading the Church into something radically different than the Church established by Christ. Pope Francis cannot continue betraying the faithful by abdicating his duty as Universal Shepherd.
The time to redouble our efforts and fervently request that Pope Francis repent and be reconciled with the Church is NOW.
SIGN and SHARE. Defend the Church and demand that Pope Francis faithfully uphold the authentic Catholic faith!
Bishops from across the world have raised concern over Pope Francis' unfaithfulness to the 2,000+ years of Catholic teaching, and the recent statement by Archbishop Viganò is truly the breaking point into a new era for faithful Catholics.
READ THE FULL STATEMENT FROM LIFESITENEWS AND SIGN THIS PETITION TO DEFEND THE CHURCH NOW.
Bishop Joseph Strickland, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Fr. James Altman, and two dozen more faithful Catholic priests & scholars are publicly calling out Pope Francis for his outrageous, dangerous, and heretical teaching concerning reception of Holy Communion.
Pope Francis stated that "faith" is the only requirement for those who wish to receive Holy Communion in his June 29 Apostolic Letter on the liturgy, Desiderio desideravi.
This statement is dangerous because:
- The Council of Trent explicitly anathematized those who make this claim calling it 'heresy'
- Pope Francis omitted the essential step of repentance for sin to worthily receive the Eucharist.
- Pope Francis is thereby allowing the faithful to eat and drink condemnation on themselves, should they receive Holy Communion unworthily
- Pope Francis is supporting moral relativism, eradicating the clear distinction between good and evil
- Pope Francis is eradicating the need for the Sacrament of Confession
- Pope Francis is damaging the teaching office of the Church by sowing doubt and division among faithful Catholics
But there is a way to stop Pope Francis' modernist attack and defend the true Catholic teaching on Holy Communion.
Catholics everywhere must renounce Pope Francis' heresy and uphold the truth: only Baptized Catholics in the state of grace, and therefore free of mortal sin, can receive Holy Communion*.
For those in mortal sin, repentance and absolution must first be sought in the Sacrament of Confession before receiving the Eucharist*.
Pope Francis' statement would mislead many souls, which is why we need your help today to stand with Bishop Strickland, Fr. Altman, Bishop Schneider, and more.
TELL POPE FRANCIS: HOLY COMMUNION CAN ONLY BE RECEIVED IN THE STATE OF GRACE!
The growing list of faithful Catholics who are standing for the truth and bravely resisting Pope Francis' attempt to dilute the Church's moral authority is only growing. This is great news, but the news can't simply stop with you.
You must join the growing list of supporters to but a STOP to Pope Francis' heresy.
WATCH: LifeSiteNews' co-CEO and Editor-in-Chief, John-Henry Westen, fully breaks down the growing list of faithful Catholics choosing to resist Pope Francis' attack on the faith.
Stand with these faithful Catholics: Bishop Joseph E. Strickland, Bishop André Gracida, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Bishop Robert Mutsaerts, Father Gerald E. Murray, Father James Altman, Father John Lovell, Professor Claudio Pierantoni, Dr. John Lamont, Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, Professor Anna Silvas, Dr. Anthony Esolen, Professor John Rist, Professor Paolo Pasqualucci, Julia Meloni, George Neumayr, and LifeSite’s John-Henry Westen.
*However, if a Catholic is unable to attend Confession but has a grave reason for receiving the Eucharist (such as a priest who may be required to celebrate Mass at a given time but who is unable to go to Confession), such a person must be confident to the best of his ability that he have perfect contrition for any mortal sins that he may have committed before receiving Holy Communion in an exceptional situation.
The Vatican has opened a preliminary enquiry, or “investigatio previa,” according to an announcement made this Friday afternoon by the head of the Press Office of the Holy See, Matteo Bruni, in the wake of civil enquiries that have been launched by the Public Prosecution in France. However, the victim has refused to file a complaint to date, as she wishes to remain anonymous and the case would appear to be time-barred in France: “sexual aggression” of a minor can be brought to the courts within 10 years after the victim turns 18, while “rape,” which is a crime, can be denounced up to 30 years after the victim turns 18. Either way, the victim, who is now 49, has passed the age-limit.
Cardinal Ricard, who was ordained in 1968, made a bishop in 1993 and a cardinal in 2006, was elected as president of the French Bishops Conference two times running in 2001 and 2004. A former bishop of the major diocese of Bordeaux, he said in his public “confession” that he will now “take a time of retreat and prayer.”
His statement was presented as a spontaneous act by the French bishops, but this has been disputed.
In fact, it was in February of this year that the victim’s parents contacted the Bishop of Nice when they learned that Ricard had been named to lead an inquiry on a “novel” Catholic community whose founder was also accused of sexual abuse in foster care homes run by the institution. They told him in an “outspoken” manner that such a nomination was unacceptable given the cardinal’s past actions. Cardinal Ricard is said to have admitted to the abuse when questioned by the Bishop of Nice. The latter is said to have been told only at a later date that the victim was a minor at the time of the abuse; he then speedily transmitted the information in his possession to the French judicial authorities on October 24, according to the Prosecutor’s office in Marseille.
The victim made contact with Sister Véronique Margron in February and had repeated meetings with her, stressing her “shock” on hearing that Ricard was going to investigate allegations of sex abuse. She said that Ricard had assaulted her when visiting her family with whom he was very friendly; he would later celebrate the girl’s marriage.
A former victim of a “pedophile priest,” Yolande du Fayet de la Tour, has told the left-wing magazine Marianne that she believes Ricard’s confession was not spontaneous: “The French Bishops’ conference was up against the wall; his name had been circulating for several days, and everything pointed to the fact that the case was going to come out.” She accused the bishops of giving the press “a bone to chew” at little risk, since it is “too late” for Ricard to be brought to justice.
Bishop Michel Santier used the sacrament of confession to abuse young men
Eric de Moulin-Beaufort’s visible state of stress and despondency when revealing Cardinal Ricard’s public statement was a sign that the Catholic Church in France is at a loss about the handling of the scandals that seem to be piling up.
He had already spoken at length about the case of Bishop Michel Santier, which was made public in October. Santier announced his decision to step down as Bishop of Créteil, in the south-eastern suburbs of Paris, in June 2020, for “serious medical” and “other” reasons. He left his post six months later, in January of 2021. He was quietly sanctioned by the Church later that year for “spiritual abuse with sexual objectives,” but the true reason for his resignation was never made public.
It was only in October 2021 that two Catholic media outlets, the mainstream conservative weekly Famille chrétienne and the outspokenly progressive Golias made the details of the case public. Within days, it became clear that Santier had abused the sacrament of confession in order to lead at least two young male adults, whose confessions he heard in front of a tabernacle, to strip off items of clothing at each confessed sin until they were naked.
Commenting on this crime – abusing a sacrament in such a way is one of the most terrible actions a cleric can perform according to canon law – Bishop de Moulins-Beaufort told the general assembly of bishops last Friday: “We must realize that there are men who have done wrong even within the episcopal body. In the case of Bishop Santier, the victims were adults, but because a bishop is a minister of the Lord Jesus, the child of God that each one of these adults was trying to be, and who was counting on the help of this or that priest, this or that bishop, was defiled and disfigured, and ended up with his or her soul in shreds.”
During his impromptu press conference four days later, Moulins-Beaufort was at pains to make clear that the real reason for Santier’s stepping down was known only to the then-Archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, and the apostolic Nuncio. Even Santier’s 2020 successor, Dominique Blanchet, was not informed until shortly before he took his new role. Moulins-Beaufort himself was told of the case but in an informal way, and he was asked to tell the other French bishops only if he judged this to be “useful” and, if possible, “orally.” Santier was sent to a female religious community that was informed of the sanctions he was under.
Moulins-Beaufort commented: “As you can see, there is work ahead of us to improve the procedures and make them more effective and comprehensible to all. I don’t think it’s fair to accuse us of having wanted to hide the Santier affair, at least not in the sense that Bishop Santier would have escaped any sanction or would have remained a risk for anyone. Unfortunately, it is now clear that he may have had other victims in the past besides the two persons known to date, and perhaps facts of a different nature.”
He acknowledged that the bishops do not have the means to make proper investigations and that new procedures must be set up. This is remarkable, coming a full year after a special commission mandated by the French bishops, the “CIASE” led by Jean-Marc Sauvé, published its reports and inspired the bishops to “go down on their knees” to ask forgiveness for priests and religious, as if the bishops were responsible for those others’ evil acts, while at the same time several in their midst were themselves abusers.
If the French bishops are manifestly still at a loss when faced with certain accusations of abuse, it must be noted that the CIASE refused to underscore the “homosexual” factor, even though a large proportion (80 percent) of its effectively documented cases of abuse involved victims who were prepubescent boys aged 10 to 13, and the majority of abusers who were auditioned by the commission identified themselves as “homosexual.” Most had transgressed the moral teachings of the Church regarding sexual activity outside of marriage before entering the seminary or a religious congregation, and a number had a problem with pornography.
Fr. Yannick Poligné used the gay dating app Grindr to meet, rape a 15-year-old boy
The recent arrest of a French parish priest in a Breton village near Rennes, Yannick Poligné, illustrates this situation. He was ordained in 1999. Aged 52, he made monthly trips to Paris to receive triple therapy for AIDS. During the most recent of these visits, he used the gay dating app Grindr to meet a 15-year-old boy (Poligné told police that his victim told him he was 18). The two had a drink together, after which they went to a hotel where the priest is alleged to have given the boy several drugs to “alter his judgment” and then violently raped him. The boy was able to call female friends who found his location, thanks to his cellphone, and were able to call emergency responders. The victim was taken to hospital, and the priest was arrested during the night.
Poligné admitted having raped the boy, adding that he thought his victim was not under-age and that the relations were “consensual.” He also told the police that he would “take advantage of his trips to Paris” to “string together a number of rounds of sex,” according to the radio station RTL.
The priest has been indicted with aggravated rape and with putting another’s life in danger because of his seropositivity.
Pierre d’Ornellas, Bishop of Rennes, published a statement on Thursday in which he spoke of his “sadness and pain”:
I understand and share the pain, anger or amazement that the faithful and priests of the Diocese of Rennes may feel, and especially the parishioners of the parish of Saint-Louis-Marie en Brocéliande and other places where [Poligné] carried out his pastoral ministry. Many have trusted him and feel betrayed. I will come to meet them and listen to them this weekend and in the days that follow. With them in particular and with all the faithful, priests, deacons and consecrated persons of the Diocese, we will go through this trial together in faith in the Lord Jesus. I can imagine how many men and women may be scandalized by this information. I understand this and assure everyone of my determination to act.
The bishop also “assured the civil justice system of the full collaboration of the diocese, and reported the facts to the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome in order to launch a parallel canonical procedure. “I reiterate my availability to all those who need it. I remind you that anyone can be received and listened to by the listening unit of the Diocese of Rennes… May the Lord console and strengthen each person on this path of justice and truth, in the service of those who suffer,” he added.
This is all very well and good, but too many questions remain unanswered: in particular, how was Poligné ever ordained a priest, and why was his problem with homosexuality not “discerned” while he was a seminarian in Rennes? Or if it was, why did this not put a stop to his priestly formation? Indeed, is the issue even taken into account when a young man studies for the priesthood?
Although the Church is truly a “perfect society,” its members, whatever their rank, are poor sinners. So are we all. However, its pope, cardinals, bishops, and priests, who are tasked with communicating the grace of God, and the merits of Jesus, God the Son, to the faithful, bear a heavy responsibility, not only in their interactions with the flock, but in their management and discernment of those to whom the flock is entrusted. There’s a long road ahead.