(NCR Online) A hard-hitting French television investigation has accused 25 Catholic bishops of protecting 32 accused clerical sex abusers in France over the past half century and often transferring them to other parishes or even other countries when they were singled out for sexual abuse of minors.
The French bishops’ conference declined an invitation to participate in the France 2 television program aired March 21. A conference spokesman accused journalists of trying to blackmail the church, an allegation the program’s editor vigorously refuted.
Mediapart, an online journal that cooperated in the investigation, called the resulting report “a French Spotlight,” a reference to The Boston Globe team that in 2002 reported on sexual abuse in the Boston Archdiocese. The yearlong French inquiry was also published March 22 as a book titled Church: The Mechanism of Silence.
The controversy over the program, titled “Pedophilia in the Church: The Burden of Silence,” came as the bishops’ conference struggles to demonstrate its concern for abuse victims while details of past negligence keep emerging.
Last year, the bishops pleaded for forgiveness over their “guilty silence” about abuse and stepped up their work with victims. But that has been overshadowed by the news that Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon, failed to remove a priest who admitted to the cardinal that he had abused boys in the 1980s. [More]