France: sexual abuse. Conference of Men and Women Religious joins “Independent Commission”

The Religious and Monastic Institutes of France have joined the Independent Commission of Inquiry that the French Bishops recently decided to set up to shed light on child abuse cases that have occurred in the Catholic Church since 1950. The decision was taken by the Conference of Men and Women Religious in France (CORREF), which brings together 450 leaders of religious and monastic institutes, at the end of their General Assembly that was held in Lourdes from 10 to 13 November, just a few days after the plenary assembly of the French Bishops. The leaders of religious institutes have long discussed – a press release reads – the “painful issues of child abuse and crimes against children”. Following their discussions, the decision was made to join the “Independent Commission” of the French Bishops’ Conference as well as to support and contribute to the efforts that the whole Church of France is carrying out to combat these crimes: initial and continuous formation in institutes; protocols for the protection of children and vulnerable people; identification of abuse perpetrators, and compensation procedures for the victims. Men and women religious in Lourdes also exchanged views on the “challenge” to give voice to the “members of our institutes who have been victims, in France but also in other countries where our brothers and sisters live”. On this point, the Conference will organise “working groups and specific days in which the victims will be able to make their fundamental contribution”. A dedicated General Assembly will be convened in 2019 to assess the first fruits of the process and take the necessary decisions.