Sexual Abuse Revelations Accelerate Sense of a French Church in Retreat

Oct 08, 2021 · 54 comments
Jon (Kirkland)
Any company that systematically rapes 200,000 children should be put out of business immediately.
Judith (Home)
I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Ronald (DC)
they will be dissolved!!!!
Jerry (California)
While ignoring the commandment of "no graven images" most of the churches have statues of a semi-naked man hanging in the front of the church. That might objectify the wrong message.
Max (Brooklyn)
The Catholic Church should dissolve under the enormity of its global violations of the trust that was placed in it.
Jim Murray (Alexandria, VA)
@Max but ignore all the good it has done. Right? Many more and even more people owe their lives and success to Catholicism: Babe Ruth was raised in a Catholic orphanage and a cleric taught him baseball there. The Jewish writer Leon Uris when writing 'Trinity' about Ireland commented 'without the priesthood and Roman Faith the Irish as a race would have been destroyed.' Balance here is required.
Dr. M (SanFrancisco)
I vote for "fade further" and feel the way about all the authoritarian, misogynistic religions.
Robert (NY)
the story's so old it has a beard
Therion bostol (Boston)
Just think about all those little girls and boys who are molested asaulted raped humiliated at the hands of their siblings, parents, uncles and aunts, and grandparents. Imagine having to see your abusers for the rest if your life at family parties. Damaged goods we are. Who compensates us?
Russ (New Albany, IN.)
The weaker the Catholic Church grows, the better off France and its citizens will be.
Pedrito (Paris - France)
It will happen, again and again until catholic priests can get married. We all know it. This rule about celibate is not written in any christian holy book. It was invented during the middle age. It is time to end it because it transforms men into predators.
Jsailor (California)
When will the church realize that its insistence on celibacy doesn't cause people to become pedophiles but attracts people to the priesthood who are predisposed to pedophilia. The church offers a safe haven for those with conflicted and deviant sexual impulses and provides them with young impressionable minds and bodies and the moral authority to act out their desires as the will of god. Eliminate celibacy from the church and the problem, while not disappearing, will become manageable.
SAH (New York)
“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction!” (Blaise Pascal) The Inquisition! The Crusades! Shielding thousands of child abusers! Condemning people’s sexual orientation. I’ll stop here. It’s too early in the morning to get so angry!
Matt (Texas)
Most evil of all organizations.
Steve (NY)
How many reported cases of sexual abuse by the Catholic Church have been reported around the world? Imagine all the cases unreported?
JD (Tuscaloosa)
Church understanding of the sex drive is truly disordered. They have no explanation for themselves. Bankrupt them.
ramjro (Fayetteville,NC)
On 10/8 NPR shined a light on this story.I don’t recall the numbers but one percentage was stunning.Half the priests in France are over the age of seventy.The church can fill these posts as mentioned here by reassignment.Good news for young priest in a foreign country but the change needs to happen in the heart.
Roberta (Greenfield MA)
Pedophilia in the church is not only a French problem, unfortunately. Worse, child abuse has happened in organized sports, scouts, camps, gymnastic teams, everywhere is teeming with abusers. It certainly feels like more of a betrayal when it comes to the church because of the scale, because of the church's reaction, and because of its stated mission. The church should compensate victims, and no it is not poor. Individual parishes may be poor, but the church in Rome is obscenely wealthy. All that said we can not blame the religion itself, otherwise we would have to blame other religions which I shall not name, when its members commit atrocities whenever they don't like a cartoon.
Tomas (Spain)
For years, France and the official governmental agency known as Miviludes has been investigating small religious groups suspected of devient tendencies, while ignoring the giant elephant in the room: the Catholic Church. Such hypocrisy.
Texas Yardbird (Houston, Texas)
I suspect the abuse has been going on for millennia and they’ve known about it all along.
JSutton (San francisco)
I don't think the abuse in the church can be reformed UNLESS they allow priests to marry. Otherwise, they'll continue to prey (not PRAY!) on helpless children who are often too ashamed to report the abuse. Another thing: Allow women to be priests. Since the "Church" will never do those two things, it will continue to sink in the esteem and respect of the whole world. And that is certainly well deserved. The arrogance they display is simply disgusting - they've probably abused millions of children worldwide.
Max Meyerling (California)
In general, an increase in a homogeneous society's educational level and sophistication is inversely proportional to its decline in religiosity. That religion in general and Catholicism in particular are founded on belief without evidence is antithetical to logic and familiarity with the principles of science in particular. The gradual extinction of religious affiliation and belief is an evolutionary consequence of the advancement of civilization and ithe understanding of reality.
will (Japan)
Everyday for 2000 years the church has had the choice and opportunity to reform itself. Yet only a few reformists have been able to fix splinters of the church. Since failing to join, improve upon, or even react sensibly to the Reformation, the church is floundering out of relevance. Time to review all those rules Jesus left about churches, and organizing, and popes, and deacons, and monks, and nuns, rituals, and rites, and .... well, you get the point.
Anna (Los Angeles)
@will Jesus didn't leave any rules about churches, popes, deacons, monks and nuns. Those came about much later - more than 3 centuries later.
Marguerite (PA)
@Anna Exactly will's point
Miss Anne Thrope (Utah)
@Anna - Plus, Jesus wasn't a christian.
Bob M (East Of Eden)
Just how much compassion has the church shown those 200,000 victims, let alone the millions of others that preceded them in previous centuries? Just in France alone. You can be sure victims were offered prayers (as their rapists were silently transferred) but no money. So that’s how the French Govt should support maintenance of churches from now on. Cut all the public monies and everyone pray for the upkeep of the churches. Why don’t we test the power of prayer?
Matthew O'Brien (San Jose, CA)
As a life-long Catholic in the United States, I think I can see with some perspective. 16 years of Catholic school education. The Catholic religion is 2000 years old. It is Christianity - as all other Christian churches are new-comers, created by some grievance -- or maybe not. Not to demean some sects outrage, it's well earned by the Catholic Church. The fundamental issue is one of accepting change. To survive robustly for 2000 years, the inherent trait of the Catholic Church is to be conservative and change very slowly. In today's age, this doesn't cut it. The "Age of Enlightenment" moves much more quickly now. So "traditional Catholics" cling to concepts that are obviously archaic. And wrong. Their concepts are then a big turn-off to individuals who can form their own "informed consciences". Look at Pope Francis as a transformational Pope. The Catholic Church needs to move faster, not slower.
Ihaveanotheropinion (Mendon)
@Matthew O'Brien I was baptized Catholic and went to parochial school until 10th grade. Early in my life, having been taught through fear, I left this "religion". Now in my senior years, I feel justified in leaving this organization behind. Why would I want to trust my immortal soul to the immoral men who run it? I can take care of my own soul and I have done so for decades. The "one true Church" is an abomination, willfully abusing those naive enough to fall for its "teachings".
JSutton (San francisco)
@Matthew O'Brien Any thought for the children?
JS (Minnesota)
As ghastly as are the crimes against these 200k children, try to imagine how many over the preceding years, decades, and centuries. Is there any doubt that this corrupt criminal enterprise known as the church would continue in its abusive ways had not journalists, investigators, and attorneys persisted in exposing the crimes? What now is fair compensation? Let's take a page from the Act of Supremacy of 1534, when England's monarch, Henry No.8 acquired all property of the church in the entire country. For every country in which this systematic sexual abuse and exploitation has been adjudicated, each diocese and every order forfeits title to all its real property. Each city, county, parish, or state is free to lease those properties as they see fit through apporpriate legislation, including for religious services, education, medical care, childrens services, and the like. Of course the civil authorities and local law enforcement remain as the guarantors of adherence to criminal and civil law. Having control in civilian hands is the first step in a reconciliation that will take decades. This former altar boy finds it a good start.
Kencal (California)
When we went to France a little over a month ago, we had to show proof of vaccination to get in anywhere: Museums, restaurants, department stores. But not when going in to churches. I think that says something about the political power of the church.
Lado (France)
@Kencal not really Freedom of religion and practises are in the Fr Constitution. A proof of vaccination cannot be required to attend any religious event (Christian, Muslim , Jewish...)Such administrative order would be struck down by any court Vaccination is not compulsory, the "pass sanitaire" makes your life difficult if you decide not to get vaccinated BTW it works
OptimisticMF (Illinois)
Maybe the church needs to figure out what it stands for so it can start living up to those ideals. Like many large organizations, the church is stale and obstinate with leadership that values their position over principles. The church needs to come clean and start living Christ's example every day. Tell the truth, don't hide from it; perform good deeds, don't shame others for not doing them and celebrate unity in faith instead of dividing people. If they would lead like this, people would be inspired to follow.
Ihaveanotheropinion (Mendon)
@OptimisticMF Oh, I believe the "Church" knows exactly what it stands for. It's those who never question the "Church's" standings who suffer.
Miss Anne Thrope (Utah)
@Ihaveanotheropinion - And tithe. Follow the $.
Gordon (Pocatello, Id.)
Pedophilia in the church is troubling, but even more troubling is the churches complete inability to stop it or even slow it down after it has been made public.
NatureLover (california)
@Gordon It has not been an inability, but rather an intentional and repeated refusal to stop it because the Church truly does not care. A refusal to publicly announce to parishioners the predator's name and type of sexual abuse perpetrated. The refusal to punish these predators through an immediate firing and pay damages as well as therapy for the victims. To instead grant these predators the cloak of moral superiority by giving them positions of authority and control within the church putting the most innocent parishioners at risk of sexual abuse. Then after discovering the abuse simply move them to other churches to abuse again and again and again. They need to make it clear that if you abuse anyone then you are fired and reported to the legal authorities for judicial punishment. That's how you deter criminal behavior. The Church needs to cooperate with legal authorities if they are serious about stopping it. That's what any true Christian would do to protect innocents.
Dr. M (SanFrancisco)
@Gordon The church doesn't not want to stop it. That would expose it for what it is: a world wide pedophilia ring, transferring those who assault children around the world. Also, the CC would have to deal with the the large percentage of gay priests, while denying that fact and condemning homosexuality.
Chas (atlanta)
At the same time that the Church has lost credibility on sexual ethics, it has doubled down on it's criticism of sexual minorities and launched a new assault on gender minorities, a teaching which has no basis in church history or tradition. On same-sex partnerships, the Vatican has said it "cannot bless sin". The Pope condemns "sexual ideology," a concept the church invented to denigrate trans and binary persons. To counteract it's loss of credibility on sexual issues, the Church condemns defenseless minorities in order to claim a position of moral superiority. This has always been a pillar of the Church's authority, which rests on simple scapegoating, the tactic of a ruthless schoolyard bully.
Marshal Phillips (Curitiba, Brazil)
@Chas Very well said AND amen to that.
David Anderson (Chelsea NYC)
Vive la France! The less a society relies on the absurd Iron Age fairy tales, on cruel life extinguishing cults, the better. (I slander all the monotheisms here, not just Catholicism). Just look at the "pious" disaster countries verses seculars (Iran vs Sweden, Afghanistan vs Japan, El Salvador vs New Zealand) in EVERY metric of a happy life. Go France! Keep it up. D.A., J.D.
William Burke (Boston, Massachusetts)
The comparison of those nations is unjust and believing it it because of religion is untrue. The reason those counties you listed were not doing as well as the other ones was not because of religion, it is due to decades of colonialism and imperialism from the West. To state that it’s because of radical Islam or evangelical Christianity is just completely not true. In all of these examples you can trace their political and economic turmoil back to either the United States or Western Europe (both places with high religious populations).
Morgan (Calgary, Alberta, Canada)
I have to agree with D Anderson because of the misogyny and the homophobia. I do find it disturbing that many insist on overlooking the mistreatment, abuse, oppression, repression, and murder of both women and LGBT 2S that the Abrahamic religions are known for. Oh and the inherent racism that many promote to the extent of committing or trying to commit genocide and cultural genocide.
NatureLover (california)
@William Burke Colonialism definitely has impacted these countries partly due to colonialism's lasting economic effects and because the formerly colonized are still following the religious values imposed by colonialists during the cultural genocide.Fervent adherence to the most conservative and old fashioned version of religions like Catholicism and Christianity perpetuates sexism (women treated as inferior), abortion bans and lack of widespread birth control use until recently in many of these countries have led to a dramatic exponential increase in populations in the last 50 years thus intensifying poverty. To deny religion's stranglehold detrimental impact on the development of these countries into first world nations with access to education, gender equality and a healthy economy with job opportunities is to deny reality.
Henry (Michigan)
The big picture: just as Europe transitioned around 300 to 500AD from Paganism to Christianity, it is now clearly transitioning from Christianity to Islam. Based on reported demographics Islam should be the majority religion in France by about 2060. (Catholic Church decline a significant factor, ditto immigration)
Bothwell (Bay of Bothnia)
@Henry What are your numbers for atheism/Nones? In the US there are now more "Nones, etc." than there are Catholics and all religions have lost numbers, as of the latest polls, even the evangelicals. I suspect that France is is close to the same.
Marguerite (PA)
@Henry France's population has been transitionning away from Catholicism since at least the 18th century, even though most of its governments have remained enmeshed with it into more modern times. France established the separation of church and state in 1905. And France is NOT transitionning to Islam. In fact, studies somewhat more serious than counting headscarves on the métro show that immigrants' religious practice is very close to that of other French residents, that is quite low. If Islam becomes the "majority religion" it doesn't much matter, because the numbers in all religions wil be minuscule.
Carla (Brooklyn)
There is nothing natural about forced celibacy. Religions that are based on denial of human sexuality result in repressed sexual feelings. Not healthy, perpetrators are always the first to condemn their own behavior in others. It’s called projection. Also not healthy. Sexually abusing children is sick but maybe we need to analyze the root causes a bit more because it certainly is pandemic. Children are abused in every culture and in practically every faith.
Bothwell (Bay of Bothnia)
@Carla "Children are abused in every culture and in practically every faith." Yes. But that is likely because every society has it's roots in hierarchies, patriarchalism, sexism, racism and failure to equalize wealth, especially wealth that comes from the natural resources of a country that should belong to everyone of that country. Celibacy, in itself, is not a problem except to the practicing individual. Celibacy is not a problem to a child: Child-rape is and that crime is not classified as "celibacy".
Bashh (Philadelphia)
@Carla Children are abused. However the numbers in France, one country, one particular group of children, are shocking. They are an indication of a hypocritical organization whose members are completely unfit to instruct and lead congregations to a spiritual and moral life. The special status churches and their prelates enjoy sets this apart from the crimes committed by others, despite the many attempts by conservative and observant Catholics to depict it as nothing out of the ordinary.
Dr. M (SanFrancisco)
@Carla Studies have shown that CC priests are not actually being celibate.Over 50% are sexually active at any time. The root cause is an institution that is allowed to run rampant, with no oversight, and a lack of women in power to balance out toxic masculinity.
Phil (Arizona)
The people in France who are still churchgoing Catholics have the same illogical attitude as most adherents to any organized religion: they care about the beliefs of other people and they want their own religion to spread as much as possible because in their twisted brains the more people who believe in a certain doctrine, the more likely it is that that doctrine will be true. I welcome the decline of the Catholic Church in France, as i would for any organized religion bent on its own propagation. I have religious beliefs but I don't force them on anyone else because I simply don't care what other people believe. Unfortunately most religious people do not have this mindset.
Miss Anne Thrope (Utah)
@Phil - "Anyone can get evil people to do evil. To get good people to do evil, you need religion." Steven Weinberg
See also