Catholic bishops in France announced Monday that they have agreed to “a vast program of renewal” of governance practices in response to a landmark report on clerical sex abuse.
Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, president of the French bishops’ conference, said Nov. 8 that the bishops had decided to “initiate a path of recognition and reparation opening for the victims the possibility of mediation and compensation.”
“All of the resolutions that we have voted on constitute a vast program of renewal of our governance practices at the level of the dioceses and at the level of the Church in France,” the archbishop of Reims said in an address broadcast live on French television.
Archbishop Moulins-Beaufort made the announcement on the final day of the bishops’ plenary assembly in Lourdes, southwestern France, which took place Nov. 2-8.
During the week-long meeting, the bishops heard from multiple abuse victims and discussed the implications of an independent report estimating that hundreds of thousands of children were abused in the Catholic Church in France over the past 70 years.
The bishops knelt in an act of penance in Lourdes on Saturday in which an image of a weeping child was unveiled and an abuse survivor shared a testimony.
Archbishop Moulins-Beaufort said in his speech that the bishops had recognized the Church’s “institutional responsibility” and had decided to implement reforms based on what they had learned from the 2,500-page report by the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church (CIASE).
“We did it above all because we felt God’s gaze on us, because we felt disgust and fear rise up in us as we realized what so many people had experienced and were experiencing in terms of suffering, even though they had the right to receive the light, the consolation, the hope of God,” the archbishop said.
Among the resolutions voted on by the French bishops was an agreement to sell off real estate and movable property of some Catholic dioceses as necessary to supplement a fund to compensate abuse victims.
The bishops also established working groups dedicated to supporting the Church’s efforts to address and prevent abuse.
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