Letter to the Pope          



 

Lyon, February 12th, 2016

 

Your Holiness,

 

We are the founders and representatives of an association (‘La Parole Libérée’ – Lift the Burdon of Silence) which supports victims of a paedophile priest recently placed under investigation for the sexual abuse of minors under the age of 15 when he was involved with a Scout group between 1970 and 1991 in the suburbs of Lyon, in the Diocese of the Rhone presently administered by Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop and Primate of the Gaul. A member of our association already wrote to you on two occasions in 2015.

 

Today we take the liberty of contacting you to appeal to your benevolence and to ask for your support after recently having read a press article ‘issued by the Vatican and published February 11th 2016’, written by the Reverend Tony Anatrella, advisor for the Pontifical Council for the Family, which completely calls into question the statement in which you claimed your highest priority was to see the serious problem of sexual abuse within our Church handled with the utmost firmness. The article in question states, amongst other, "if a Bishop is informed of a crime or an immoral act, he does not have a duty to report a suspect to the authorities, the police or a public prosecutor ".

 

You yourself, Most Holy Father, have called for ‘zero tolerance’ in this matter, very clearly pointing out that "everything must be done to rid the Church of the scourge of sexual abuse". In a similar vein, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (in line with the conference of the Bishops of France) wrote that "the prescriptions of civil law in respect of referring crimes to the competent authorities will always be followed, without  compromising personal moral values ". When, in the United States in September 2015, you met and spoke to victims of sexual abuse by paedophile members of the clergy you also said "God weeps for those who have been wronged. Those who have suffered are those who have shown the greatest mercy” and that “those responsible would answer for what they had done”

 

In this Holy Year of Mercy, it would, however, appear that these victims, these children, need maximum protection against predators whose crimes are strongly condemned by both civil and canon law. It is therefore most disconcerting when the strong, clear recommendations which you have made are completely contradicted by statements which leave the door open for complicity and the wrongful practise of covering up criminal facts.

 

As the supreme moral authority of the Catholic Church to whom so many devout followers turn, we ask for your immediate intervention.

 

We have the honour to profess ourselves with the most profound respect.

Your Holiness' most obedient and humble servants,

 

François Devaux

Bertrand Virieux 

Alexandre Hezez