Pope Writes French Bishops After Abuse Scandal

Prelates Gathered in Their Autumn Plenary Assembly

Pope French Bishops
© Vatican Media

Pope Francis sent a letter to French Bishops, gathered in their autumn Plenary Assembly, encouraging them at this time in which they are going through “the storm caused by the shame and tragedy of the abuse of minors in the Church.” The text is addressed to the President of the French Episcopal Conference, Monsignor de Moulins-Beaufort.

According to the French edition of “Vatican News,” the French Prelates are dedicating a good part of their autumn Assembly to the Sauvé Report on abuses to minors committed by members of the clergy and individuals that have worked for the Church in the last decades. This meeting is also taking place after the ad Limina visit of their three last groups to the Vatican.

In face of the scandal of abuses, the Pope said that the French Episcopate would find “the means to render homage to the victims and to console them; to exhort all believers to penance and conversion of heart; to take all the necessary measures to make the Church a safe home for all; to take care of the wounded and scandalized People of God and, finally, to assume the mission with joy, looking resolutely to the future.”

The Holy Father is also certain that “the people of France await the Good News of Christ” and that they “need it more than ever.” So he entrusted the great majority of priests to the care of the Bishops with “particular tenderness.” They, he stressed, “need to be strengthened and supported” at a time when their beautiful vocation is being sullied, he added.

In his letter, Pope Francis also refers to topics addressed during the Plenary Assembly, such as care of the common home, with further reflection on the Encyclical Laudato Si’ and on Ecumenism.

The Pope’s Words after the Publication of the Sauvé Report

In the General Audience of October 6, 2021, after the publication of the Sauvé Report, the Pontiff expressed to the victims of sexual abuse in France his “sadness and sorrow for the traumas” they suffered, as well as his “shame for the excessively long incapacity of the Church to put them at the center of its concerns.”

For the Bishop of Rome, the sexual abuses are “lamentably numerous and considerable,” and he assured his “prayer” for the victims. ”Let us pray all together: To you, Lord, the glory and to us shame. This is the time of shame. I encourage the Bishops and you, dear brothers, who have come here to share this moment, and to the Religious Superiors, to continue to make every effort so that similar tragedies aren’t repeated.”

“I express to France’s priests my closeness and paternal support in face of this test; it’s hard but salutary. And I invite French Catholics to assume their responsibilities to guarantee that the Church is a safe home for all,” concluded the Successor of Peter.

After the publication of the Sauvé Report and shortly before the General Audience, His Holiness met with four French Bishops visiting Rome, for a moment of silent prayer for the victims of abuses committed by members of the French clergy.

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester