The victims believe they have been heard
For victims of sexual assault committed by clerics, March 26, 2021 will be a milestone. On the very day of the self-dissolution of the emblematic association La parole libérée, at the origin of the revelations of pedophile acts that have shaken the Church of France since 2015, the episcopate made public eleven resolutions to fight against this scourge.
These resolutions were scrutinized by the victims, some of whom have regularly advised the bishops since they were received, in November 2018, at their Plenary Assembly in Lourdes. Particularly involved: the Faith and Resilience collective, which includes Olivier Savignac, also president of the Parler et revivre association. “Listening has paid off, he rejoices. I feel in these resolutions the imprint of a real awareness, and a historical recognition of the trauma suffered. “
This feeling of having been heard involves in particular the creation of new bodies: a Council for the prevention and the fight against pedophilia, a dedicated national service, “protection of minors” referents in the various bodies of the Bishops’ Conference. from France (CEF)… “All this will allow the Church of France to finally enter into a culture of well-treatment and the protection of children, which we have been asking for for years”, recalls Brigitte Navail, another member of Faith and Resilience. She says she is satisfied with the “Your general” bishops in their resolutions, who do not yield to the temptation of a “Mystical-religious language”. “It is important, to make these measures audible by the victims who are not or no longer part of the Church today”, she adds.
Keeping the link with the outside of the Church is a “Absolute necessity” for these victims, who fear the perpetuation of the ecclesial inter-self having too often hindered the revelation of these tragedies. The fact that the future national listening team joins the France Victimes association, recognized for its professionalism, is viewed very favorably. “We were afraid of falling back into the pitfalls of the diocesan listening cells, which had come up against conflicts of loyalty, with volunteer listeners too close to certain targeted priests”, explains Olivier Savignac.
External personalities should also be present within “The independent assistance body” responsible for allocating a financial contribution to victims. The CEF will appoint a qualified person who will constitute its own team, including representatives of victims appointed by their associations. For Brigitte Navail, “Giving associations the freedom to send whomever they want reveals a certain humility on the part of the bishops”.
On this financial question, however, one element leaves the victims dissatisfied: the fact that the CEF does not speak of compensation but of “Contribution to (their) catering “. “” Contribution ”is already better than“ gesture ”, which had a pejorative connotation, concedes Olivier Savignac. But compensating the damage suffered is essential, and this cannot be reduced to the assumption of therapeutic costs. “
Another lack, according to these victims: real work around the systemic causes of child crime in the Catholic Church. “I do not believe I have read the word clericalism in these eleven resolutions”, deplores Véronique Garnier, victim and co-responsible for the protection of minors in the diocese of Orléans. For her, it is urgent to question the place of the priest in the light of theology, the liturgy or even ecclesiology.
Even if this dimension is also missing, according to her, in the long letter that the bishops sent to all Catholics, Véronique Garnier is delighted that the faithful are thus challenged by the episcopate: “The goal is that no one in the Church can say to himself that all this does not concern him. “