France: documentary film on abuse suffered by nuns aired on “Arte” channel yesterday. Bishops, “deep indignation, sadness and anger”

6 March 2019

Feelings of “deep indignation, sadness and anger” were expressed by the French Bishops’ Conference and the Conference of Men and Women Religious of France, following the broadcasting last night on the “Arte” channel of a “distressing and upsetting” documentary on “the sexual abuse of nuns by religious men and diocesan priests”. “It is first of all to the nuns and women religious who suffered this abuse that the thoughts and the prayers of the Bishops’ Conference go”, a statement from the French Bishops reads. “The fight against sexual abuse and all other forms of abuse in the Church is a priority today for which we must all assume full responsibility. This is the message that the presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences world-wide have recently launched in Rome during the meeting for the protection of minors with Pope Francis” and it is “with this conviction” that the bishops and religious congregations in France “pursue their efforts to support and listen to the victims, as well as to advance, with them, this fight against all forms of abuse in the Church: abuse of power, abuse of conscience, and sexual abuse”. In a statement signed by Sr. Véronique Margron, Father Marc Botzung and Father Daniel Federspiel, the Conference of Men and Women Religious of France called the documentary film “horrifying”. They also recalled the appeal made in Rome by the International Union of Superiors General to all women religious who are and have been victims of abuse to come forward without fear, “knowing that they will be listened to, supported and protected”. Even the communities “Frères de Saint-Jean” and “L’Arche” expressed criticism about the documentary film in response to a former nun Michèle-France, who was abused first by Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe and then by Fr. Thomas Philippe.