The Catholic Church in France has pledged to set up an independent commission to ‘shed light’ on cases of paedophilia.
Mired in scandal involving a cover-up of the sexual abuse of children which reaches the highest ranks of the clergy, bishops announced that special groups would be set up to listen to the victims. They would be overseen by a lay person to avoid any conflict of interest.
Speaking at a press conference Monsignor Georges Pontier, Marseille archbishop and president of France’s Bishops Conference explained:
“We thought it’s important to have an external commission of experts because we have with our priests a relationship that surpasses the relationship between employer and employee. It’s not like this. We have a relationship which creates a proximity with priests and this proximity may be a disservice on some occasions”.
The measures come after the controversy surrounding Archbishop of Lyon Philippe Barbarin. He is accused of failing to inform prosecutors about a priest who had admitted to sexually abusing boys in the Lyon area 25 years ago. Though he called for forgiveness for the crimes, he insists he did nothing wrong.