PARIS, France (LifeSiteNews) — UPDATE: In the wake of a report on clerical sex abuse in France that recommended the lifting of the seal of confession so offenders can be reported to the civil judiciary, the head of the French Bishops Conference was summoned to a meeting with the French Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin. The summons came as a reaction to Archbishop Eric de Moulins-Beaufort’s statement, in response to the report, that “the seal of confession is binding” for Catholic priests, “and as such, it is stronger than the laws of the Republic.”
Moulins-Beaufort has agreed to meet with the home affairs minister next Tuesday, when he will be asked to “give an explanation for his remarks,” in Darmanin’s words.
Government spokesman Gabriel Attal – a self-proclaimed homosexual who is in a civil partnership with an official advisor to President Emmanuel Macron – also slammed the Archbishop’s statement on Thursday afternoon, following the weekly Council of Ministers, making it clear that Macron himself is behind the summons: “The reaction to these remarks is very clear: there is nothing stronger than the laws of the Republic in our country. It can be summed up in one sentence, and it is very clear (…). The President of the Republic has asked the Minister of the Interior to receive the President of the French Bishops’ Conference so that this is made clear.”
The special report on clerical sex abuse in France from 1950 to 2020 was presented to the French bishops on Wednesday, triggering a shockwave of horror and indignation as the Catholic Church was found guilty by its authors of “systemic” sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults: “systemic” both because of the sheer numbers of victims and because of the widespread disregard of victims and unsatisfactory measures taken against known clerical abusers.
The report was presented at a press conference at the seat of the French Bishops Conference in Paris, broadcast live on the French Catholic TV station KTO. It opened with angry and even vindictive opening speeches by former victims of abuse, one of whom loudly and threateningly hammered home the words: “You – are – going – to – have – to – pay – for – your crimes!” to an assembly of bishops and religious who are in all probability in no way responsible for the abuse and hurt that was inflicted on many innocent children over the years.
How many? The report claims an estimated 216,000 victims suffered sexual abuse of varying levels of gravity on the part of priests, deacons and religious during the 70 years assessed at the request of the French episcopate and religious institutions. This is even over 300,000 when counting lay persons tasked with an ecclesial mission such as catechism or work with youth clubs, scouts, and the like. It is these numbers that provoked a host of hostile or despondent op-eds in the French press on Wednesday morning.
Even the anarchist daily Libération – infamous for having published stories favorable to sexual acts between adults and children in the 1970’s – chose a blaring title for its first page: “Pedocriminality: the Church is unforgiveable.”
This seems to be the point of the report of the “CIASE” (“Commission indépendante sur les abus sexuels dans l’Eglise,” Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church): to consider the Catholic Church of France guilty as an institution, as an entity. And on the grounds of that guilt, to require (or to force) the Church to change her mode of governance, her hierarchical organization, and even to break the seal of confession when a penitent accuses him or herself of having sexually abused a minor.
This is perhaps the most startling of the 45 “recommendations” issued by the CIASE to the Catholic Church, as summarized by the English-language summary of its report:
Finally, the Church must issue precise directives to confessors regarding the seal of confession. Confessors must not be allowed to derogate, on the grounds of the sanctity of the seal of confession, from the obligations provided for by the French Criminal Code, which are compliant with those of natural and divine law which provides for the protection of a person’s life and dignity, to report to the competent authorities cases of sexual violence inflicted against a child or a vulnerable person. This is not to question the seal of confession generally; but within the scope of sexual violence inflicted against children, a reminder is issued that the letter and the spirit of the law of the French Republic (…) apply to every single person on French territory.
In a somewhat naïve fashion, the report suggests that the Church must send a “clear message” both to confessors and lay people that “the seal of confession cannot derogate from the obligation, as established by the penal code (…) to notify to the judiciary and administrative authorities cases of sexual violence committed on a minor or a vulnerable person.”
If such were the case, it can hardly be expected that child abusers – who are expert at dissimulating their crimes, one priest told LifeSite – would go and confess to such sins.
Please SIGN this critical petition which urges the Catholic Church to demand that Big Pharma develop, produce and distribute ethical (non-abortion tainted) COVID vaccines for Catholics...and, anyone else who feels morally obliged to refuse abortion-tainted vaccines!
Over the past 10 months, the Catholic Church's teaching office (the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - CDF) has quietly directed the Catholic faithful to protest against the use of aborted babies in the production or testing of available COVID vaccines in the West -- all of which use aborted fetal cell lines in either their development or testing phase.
Sadly, this direction has been so quiet that almost no-one knows about it.
At the same time, however, the Pope (see below), along with many other senior prelates, has been loudly promoting the uptake of these same unethically-produced vaccines amongst the Catholic faithful with only a whisper of protest.
It's clear that there is a major disconnect in the Church between word and action on this major moral issue.
But, instead of being a follower, the Church should be a leader in this area -- demanding the development of ethical vaccines (and, other ethically-developed products) for Catholics.**
In fact, there are already Catholic scientists, like Dr. Alan Moy, who are working with adult stem cells to help achieve ethical alternatives, but they have received "very little interest" from the Church, to-date.
And, to be fair, some individual bishops, like Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver, Canada, have vocally supported non-abortion tainted vaccines, with Archbishop Miller going so far as to donate towards ethical research.
But, it's time to try again and ask Church leaders in the Vatican and its US counterpart, the USCCB (the Catholic bishops' conference in the United States), to be fully consistent in word and deed on the issue of aborted fetal cell lines used to produce vaccines.
Jews have kosher foods and Muslims have halal foods. And, people from both traditions demand such foods - and, their demands are respected. As an example, please click and scroll down here to see all of the halal certificates which McDonald's needs to operate in Saudi Arabia.
So, certainly the Catholic Church could and should loudly demand that pharmaceutical companies develop and produce ethical vaccines for Catholics.
Indeed, the Church could and should ask the faithful to loudly demand ethical vaccines from Big Pharma (by providing phone numbers and email addresses, for example). And, or, the Church could and should commit to sponsoring the development of pro-life pharmaceuticals.
It should be noted here that the Catholic Church teaches that there is NO moral obligation, whatsoever, to accept a vaccine.
But, regrettably, for those who wish to take an ethically-produced COVID vaccine, even the Church's direction is hard to understand, precisely because it is contradictory.
On the one hand, the CDF says that acceptance of an abortion-tainted vaccine constitutes passive/remote material cooperation in the evil of abortion.
On the other hand the CDF also says that the acceptance of abortion-tainted vaccine is morally permissible when no ethically developed and tested vaccine is available.
At the same, however, the CDF paradoxically says that those who accept an unethical vaccine have the moral obligation to protest against it.
But then...there's the recent video of Pope Francis and other senior bishops, Archbishops and Cardinals promoting the COVID vaccines, without protesting against their gravely immoral development and testing, nor calling on Big Pharma to produce an ethical alternative.
So, where the current slate of COVID vaccines is concerned, the Church is apparently saying that you can cooperate with evil if some good may result...if you have no ethical alternative...but, you have to protest the evil...while participating in it.
And, well, the very people who are telling us to protest the unethical vaccines are, themselves, actually promoting them as, "an act of love."
This kind of contradiction - saying one thing and doing another - is unacceptable because it assumes as normal the situation where only unethical vaccines are available for Catholics.
We are asking the Church to stop this seeming servility towards Big Pharma, and start a loud and active campaign promoting the development and production of ethical vaccines.
Please SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition urging Pope Francis and other Vatican authorities, as well as USCCB authorities, to loudly demand that Big Pharma develop and produce ethical vaccines for Catholics, untainted by abortion.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
'‘Wholly unethical’: US ‘personhood’ org condemns COVID vaccines derived from aborted babies' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/wholly-unethical-us-personhood-org-condemns-covid-vaccines-derived-from-aborted-babies/
'In ‘rupture’ with Church’s ‘absolute opposition’ to abortion, Vatican hosting pro-aborts at pro-COVID jab conference' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/in-rupture-with-churchs-absolute-opposition-to-abortion-vatican-hosting-pro-aborts-at-pro-covid-jab-conference/
'‘I will never comply with evil’: Pro-lifer Abby Johnson on abortion-tainted vaccines' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/i-will-never-comply-with-evil-pro-lifer-abby-johnson-on-abortion-tainted-vaccines/
'Canadian archbishop donates to ethical coronavirus vaccine research' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/canadian-archbishop-donates-to-ethical-coronavirus-vaccine-research/
**Actually, to be fully consistent with the Church's teaching on this issue, the Catholic Church should demand that Catholics be offered an "ethical" choice for every major product, from food to cosmetics, from to clothing to medicine, and beyond.
However unrealistic, the attack on the seal of confession is one of the more troubling aspects of the report. Archbishop Eric de Moulins-Beaufort of Reims, the president of the Bishops Conference, reacted vigorously against that particular recommendation in an interview with FranceInfo this Wednesday. “The seal of confession is binding for us and as such, it is stronger than the laws of the Republic,” he said. “It opens a space of unrestricted words that are spoken before God.”
Describing two “cases” in point, he explained: the first is that of child abusers who confess. “As it is secret, we do not know if there are abusers who do so,” he said, judging that is not probable that many do, or if so, “in a euphemized way.” He agreed with the Commission that has encouraged the Church not to consider “pedophilia” as a problem with “chastity,” but as “a problem of attack on life, of crime, of murder, symbolically at least.” Repeatedly, the CIASE report underscores that even when clerical abusers were found out and sanctioned, the damage done to victims and their central role in these cases are not considered by canon law.
Moulins-Beaufort said the “second” case is when children make more or less clear during confession that they are themselves victims: “”We have to find a way to allow that child to talk in a different way, but a lot of kids talk in confession only because they know it’s secret.”
The Archbishop of Reims “inherited” the CIASE report from his predecessor, Archbishop Pontier of Marseille, who mandated the Commission that authored it together with the head of the association of French religious, CORREF, at the end of 2018. The Catholic Church bore all expenses, explicitly waived “any right of review as to the validity” of funds allocated.
Among other recommendations made by the CIASE, which has gone clearly beyond its competencies in its advice to the Catholic Church, for instance in telling it not to “place the priest in a position above the baptized.” This includes the necessity, according to the CIASE, to “closely examine practices in the episcopal and priestly ministries and study the discourse on which they are based to see if this has encouraged a distorted interpretation.”
While the Commission did not incriminate priestly celibacy as a trigger for sexual abuse, it did say that the Church should “identify the ethical requirements of consecrated celibacy, in particular with regard to the representation of the priest and the risk incurred of bestowing on him the status of hero, or of placing him in a position of dominance.” It should also “assess, for the Church in France, perspectives opened by the propositions of the Amazon Synod, in particular the suggestion that ad experimentum, married men could be ordained as priests if they fulfill the conditions for pastors, as laid down by Saint Paul in the First Epistle to Timothy.’”
Interestingly, the report paid special attention to the so-called “new communities” where abuse of young nuns, seminarians, and other vulnerable members sometimes took place on a large scale. It said that “the distinction between the internal and the external forum is clearly made everywhere.” It noted that, in some cases, recourse to psychological treatment encroaching on the spiritual, as well as the rise of psychanalysis in the Church in the middle of the 20th century, also played a role.
Recommendation 9 asks the Catholic Church to teach widely that “the profanation of a sacrament recalls the most fundamental profanation: that of people.” This is a clear instance of the Commission going beyond its scope: a profanation is all the more terrible in that it aims at that which is most sacred: God, the Body and Blood of Christ. This does not take away that taking away a child’s innocence and defiling his or her body is one of the gravest of sins – one that brings to mind Jesus’ warning:
But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea (Matth. 18:6).
The Sauvé report complains that victims of clerical sex abuse are “forgotten” in Church law, and it asks for canon law to be modified in this respect, allowing them to be part of the process. Whether this is a good idea or not, it ignores two very important aspects of these cases: the fact that the greatest offense is not the harm done to the victim, but the rejection of God’s law, and also that the greatest harm on a human plane is done by the sinner to himself, risking the loss of his soul. This particular aspect goes beyond human justice, and the Church has a duty to take it into account, albeit without minimizing the terrible suffering of the abused.
It is a lack of understanding of the supernatural realities that led the Commission to ask the Church in France to modify its doctrine and its way of teaching regarding the 6th Commandment. Recommendation 11 said: “Closely examine: In what ways the paradoxical obsession of Catholic morality on issues of sexuality could be counterproductive in the fight against sex abuse. The choice of lumping together the whole of human sexuality in just the sixth commandment of the Decalogue. Encourage doctrinal thought about not separating doctrine on sexuality from the Church’s social doctrine and the equal dignity of all human beings.”
In a similar way, the report encouraged the Church to revise its structures, as if they were responsible for the crimes of some abusers:
Recommendation 34: The Commission believes that it is necessary to closely examine: The hierarchical constitution of the Catholic Church in view of internal disagreement concerning its own understanding of itself: between communion and hierarchy; between apostolic succession and synodality; and, essentially, between affirmation of the authority of preachers and the reality of grass roots practices which are increasingly influenced by democratic practices. Concentration of the powers of order and of governance in the hands of the same person which leads to an insistence on the rigorous exercise of power and, in particular, on respect for the distinction between internal and external forum. Identification of the power of the sacrament with power more generally.
Here it becomes clear that the report is seeking to “democratize” the Church and even to establish a link between the power of the Sacraments and the abuse of power. It is not the power of the Sacraments that poses a problem, however, but the use of an infinitely good and necessary thing, the transmission of grace by the priestly office, to the vilest of ends.
Echoing Pope Francis and other Church leaders, Recommendation 36 reads: “The Commission believes that, with regard to the principle of equal dignity, a far greater presence of laypersons in general, and women in particular, is required amongst the deciders of the Catholic Church. This work would necessarily involve knowing the current situation and determining objectives with implementation dates.”
These are references – they are more explicit in the full text – to the idea that priests and religious abuse children because they are seen as “above” lay people, exerting evil power because of their lofty status. The words “clericalism” and “synodality” are recurrent in the text and suggest that priests should be more like laypeople, sharing the same dignity and a similar vocation that just happens to specifically allow them to celebrate the Sacraments.
The report quoted Pope Francis on this point:
Secondly, and more fundamentally, the Commission studied the deviations, the distortions, and the perversions which the doctrine and teachings of the Catholic Church have allowed to flourish, and which are likely to have encouraged the occurrence of sexual violence: the “clericalism, so criticized by Pope Francis in his Letter to the People of God, including the excessive sanctification of the person of the priest; the overvaluation of the state of celibacy and charism of the priest; a misguided adherence to obedience when exercised at the cost of conscience; and a false interpretation of the Scriptures. Based on the testimonials it received, the Commission also endeavored to identify what in the writings of the sacred tradition of the Catholic Church, such as the Catechism, could have maintained this fertile terrain: a lack of attention to the assaults, hiding behind “offences to chastity” or an excessively taboo view of sexuality.
This is surely the agenda behind the CIASE report. Surely, it rightly insists on the necessary training of priests and religious, the careful assessment of religious vocations, the indispensable need not to sweep these affairs under the carpet in the interests of the institution as did happen in many identified cases. But the remedies suggested are secularist and accuse the Church of a sort of collective responsibility linked with its beliefs and morals, even though these are precisely and scandalously negated when clerical sex abuse is committed.
At one point, the report even suggests that the “encouragement of parish level preventative measures would also be welcome: initiatives and activities which teach children that they have rights and that they detain knowledge – and not only as receivers of doctrine – based on the model for thought and action organized by the City of Paris with the Parisian Charter for the Rights of the Child drawn up in 2020 by the children themselves.”
This Charter was drawn up by 170 children as an initiative of the socialist mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo. It asks that children be associated with decision-making, with a special Children’s permanent council. Children should have a vote on decisions regarding their schools and their cities. A chapter on violence suggests that special training should be given, and violent parents be “moved away.” However generous some of their suggestions, the Charter’s principle is again one of “people power.”
As was made clear before the report was published, some 2,900 to 3,200 priests and religious have been (more or less) identified as having committed acts of sexual abuse ranging from unwanted touching to fully-fledged rape. 80 percent of victims were prepubescent boys aged 10 to 13, and the report adds that in cases where abusers were able to be heard by the commission, a majority of them 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.
The report did not amplify on specific issues linked to the rise of sexual licentiousness and the depreciation of chastity in some seminaries that accompanied the sexual revolution that came to a head in the May 1968 revolution in France.
When speaking of “216,000” victims, the report was simply extrapolating from a survey of 28,010 persons who anonymously filled in a lengthy questionnaire in which they were asked whether they had been abused in their youth by family members, Church members, religious leaders from other communities, school teachers, sports leaders, and the like. There is no mention of special procedures to verify whether the stories told were sincere and true, nor how (or if) people who had a personal animosity toward the Church (or another of the named institutions) had been weeded out to avoid untrue accusations made out of spite.
This survey was used to say that, after from abuse from family and friends, abuse from Catholic priests and religious formed the most important proportion of crimes that affected a total of “5.5 million” victims over the 70-year period. Abuse from teachers in public schools and in sports clubs, according to the same survey, accounted for twice as little cases as abuse within the Church. But how true is this?
The Sauvé report said the Church must compensate the victims apart from judiciary procedures and find “case by case” amounts that would take particular circumstances into account. Once again, the question of proof arises. Also, the report said the Church must not ask Catholics to give money to that aim, but that dioceses and congregations should pay out of their own wallet. Is the objective to get the Church to sell off its real estate?
In more than one place, the report asks the Church to manifest an “unfeigned abasement.” Clearly, the bishops of France have given a secular institution the power to humiliate it without limits, even though it is very unjust to accuse the Church as such of crimes that were committed by some and covered up by a scant number of its leaders, while the immense majority of priests and many bishops are innocent of them.