The publication of a report in the United States reveals a list of 300 priests accused of paedophilia and more than 1,000 victims.
It is a new paedophilia scandal that is shaking the universal Church. A major scandal. An investigation carried out by the Pennsylvania prosecutor’s office, published on 14 August, revealed the existence of sexual abuse perpetrated by more than 300 priests, of which no fewer than 1,000 children were reported victims.
“MORE REVELATIONS IN THE YEARS TO COME”
These abuses were all, according to the investigation report, covered by the Catholic Church of the American state. Today, almost all the cases brought to light by the investigation are statute-barred. Those responsible cannot therefore be prosecuted. A case reminiscent of the one led by Boston journalists, and which gave birth to the film Spotlight.
“It takes a long time for a victim to dare to speak, to free herself and to say the suffering that is hers. It is not surprising that it takes so many years. And we know that sexual violence against children is the least reported to the authorities. We can expect other revelations in the years to come,” explains Father Stéphane Joulain, a white father and psychotherapist specializing in paedophilia.
“THE VICTIMS’ WORDS ARE FREE”
The latter evokes an evolution in relation to the victims. “The victims’ words are free. The victims dare to speak out and the other victims see this word come free and tell themselves that they could be believed. This is very important. I believe that before the Church was ready to hear, there were all those victims who dared to speak, and who freed the words of others,” the psychotherapist adds.
“Those who have been complicit in these crimes must be brought to justice. So, of course, the bishops who are stationed in the dioceses of Pennsylvania are probably not those who were there when the facts were committed, but those who have responsibilities in the concealment of these facts must be brought to justice. Because as soon as you protect a criminal, you become an accomplice to these crimes,” says Father Joulain.
“THE POPE REALIZED THAT BISHOPS COULD LIE”
For the latter, it was the Chilean affair that marked a real turning point in the awareness of these horrors by the ecclesial authorities. “The Pope realized that bishops could lie and that the information he had was not correct. He was already sensitive to these realities, but then he realized that there was a real systemic problem. This moment of change can help the Church to move forward with the victims in reparation work,” says the psychotherapist.
“In his last apostolic exhortation, the Pope says that humiliation calls for humility. This is the only way the Catholic Church can truly be a Church at the service of God’s people, a Church that knows how to walk humbly. Once humiliation is accepted, and there is a factor of shame, the Pope invites us to transform it into humility. Humility, Saint John Chrysostom defined it as the recognition of truth. You have to walk the truth. Yes, the Church has failed in its mission. Yes, the Church is sinful. Yes, the men who make it up have abused children and vulnerable people. Yes, we must accept this dimension of our ecclesial institution. But you mustn’t stay with your nose in the dust. We have to ask ourselves how, with the victims, we are going to find ways of reparation. This is where the Lord awaits us” Father Stéphane Joulain concludes.