The silence on pedophilia is a "collective sin" for the patron of the bishops of France

Pontier incriminates the lack of attention given to victims in the Church and asks that we stop to blame the media or the outside world, in an interview in the "Journal du dimanche".


A priest during an ordination ceremony at Notre-Dame de Paris, June 24, 2006. FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP

The silence around sexual abuse in the Church is the result of a "collective sin" and a system that "neglects" the word of the victims, says the patron of the bishops of France Bishop Pontier in an interview in the Journal du dimanche of 17 February.

"We must work together against pedophilia. Hierarchy (religious, ed) is not the only culprit. In some families, very Christian parents prevented their child from speaking. It is a collective sin , " says the president of the Conference of Bishops of France (CEF). "There is a veneration of the Church that is unhealthy and can prevent the release of speech," he adds.

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Do not blame

A few days before a world summit at the Vatican on pedophile crimes, Bishop Pontier incriminates more generally the lack of attention given to victims in the Church. "There is something systemic about the negligence, the weight and the defense of institutions in relation to the victims," he says, assuring that the Church must take its responsibilities. "We can no longer reject the fault, say that it is the media or the outside world that would like the Church," says Bishop Pontier.

The victims "do not need permanent repentance if the acts do not follow" , he continues, forming the hope that the Sauvé commission constituted in France on pedophile abuse in the Church will "shake" the institution.

The prelate is also in favor of postponing the release, on Wednesday, of the film by François Ozon entitled "Grace to God" and dedicated to Father Preynat, a Lyonnais priest indicted for sexual assault on minors and who could be judged this year.

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"Amazing Calendar"

Seizure of a request for postponement filed by Father Preynat, justice must rule on Monday.

"We are in a bewildering calendar, which would end with the recognition of guilt in court after seeing so much about Father Preynat who, no doubt, has committed wrongdoing. There must be a minimum respect for the presumption of innocence. "

Asked about the investigation for sexual assault in Paris the ambassador of the pope in France Bishop Ventura, the prelate is also cautious. "If acts have been committed that would have deeply traumatized someone, that would be shocking of course. I know Bishop Ventura well, and for the moment I presume him innocent, " said Bishop Pontier.

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