• A protocol aimed at improving the dialogue between justice and the Church was signed on June 8, 2022 at the Rennes Court of Appeal.

  • This text aims to better deal with reports of sexual abuse of minors who are victims of priests or religious.

  • According to the Sauvé report published last year, 216,000 children have been victims of pedophile acts in France over the past seventy years.

It is within the walls of the Parliament of Brittany that the signatures were affixed.

A stone's throw from the main courtroom of the Assize Court where many young victims testified to acts of sexual assault and rape.

Faced with heavy accusations of sexual abuse suffered by tens of thousands of children, the Church wants to redeem itself.

On Wednesday evening, the dioceses of Brittany signed a protocol with the Rennes Court of Appeal aimed at improving the treatment of denunciations of sexual offenses confessed to men of the Church.

The objectives are multiple: to better gather opinions, to ensure better legal treatment and to mutually inform each other of the follow-up given to reports.

Competent over the five departments of historic Brittany, the Court of Appeal hopes to improve direct communication between the bishops and the prosecutors.

“We come out of a fairly large reciprocal ignorance.

You have to find an ease of contact, ”says Frédéric Benet-Chambellan.

The president of the Rennes Court of Appeal is not the first magistrate to sign such a protocol.

According to the figures for the number of cases, his territory is not the most affected by sexual abuse in the Church.

The prosecutor mentions “twelve legal cases” involving priests over the past fifteen years, two of which were recorded after the end of 2020 and the publication of the Sauvé report.

This large-scale investigation reported "216,000 potential victims in France" and 3,000 priests involved.

Priests involved?

“The vast majority are deceased”

The Archbishop of Rennes Monseigneur d'Ornellas also played the card of transparency explaining that he was aware of "44 situations involving priests and 15 involving brothers or religious since the years 1936-1937".

“The vast majority of those incriminated are now deceased,” he added.

With this protocol, the Church hopes for "a clarification in the way of managing these situations of pedocrime" in order "to take the fairest decisions and that justice be done", continues the archbishop.

When they collect confessions of abuse concerning a minor, the bishops are legally bound to bring them to justice, and this, even the victim does not wish to lodge a complaint.

An obligation that could constitute a brake on the freedom of speech of certain victims.

“It is possible yes.

But when a person confides, it does not happen in a meeting.

It is the fruit of a dialogue.

This dialogue must help us to bring the victim to take legal action, to make him understand that it is for his own good,” said Monsignor d’Ornellas.

“Professional secrecy is lifted when the victim is a minor.

In the event that the victim does not want to file a complaint, the obligation to report the facts remains”, recalls Frédéric Benet-Chamberlan.

By improving the communication link between the bishops and the prosecutors of the five departments concerned, this protocol should also lead to better training of priests in the collection of the word.

"Our greatest work is to do prevention, to train our priests to receive confidence in good conditions, even outside of the sacrament", promises the archbishop.


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