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Sexual abuse in the Church, the terrible past of Catholic education

In the vast blackboard of pedophilia within the Church, Catholic education occupies a special place. Thus, the results of the call for testimonies launched by the Sauvé commission show that 30% of the abuses occurred within the framework of schools or boarding schools.

→ RELIVE the delivery of the Sauvé report and the reactions

They consist of “Touching or other attacks, and rape in 19% of cases”. The authors of the document specify that it is generally “Repeated violence”, which can last from one to five years, in a third of the situations. Due in particular to the late introduction of co-education, the victims are mainly boys, two thirds of whom are 10 to 13 years old.

“A spiritual or emotional influence”

In six out of ten cases, the aggressor exercises “A spiritual or emotional influence” on the victim. “The status of teacher,” prefect of division “, supervisor or director, strengthens in this type of abuse the power of the aggressor and strongly limits the possibilities of resistance of the attacked”, can we read in the report which mentions ” a number of old cases ” wherein “The abuse may first have been perceived by the person attacked as a happy breach of the impersonality of the school rule, a mark of explosive attention in relation to the coldness of the school climate. “

For a long time, there was the obligation of confession, which did not take place in the confessional but directly in the confessor’s bedroom-office. “The aggressor knows how to play it”, underlines the Sauvé commission, citing the testimony of a former student, assaulted in 1961, by his director of conscience. “If we didn’t go, we were threatened (…) of being expelled. So it was a scheme that was well designed (…). When we tried to say that it was not normal, we were punished. “

→ EDITORIAL.Sexual abuse: in front of the truth

The strongest influence of pedophilia within Catholic education dates back to the period stretching from the 1940s to the 1960s.“A drop in the number of sexual assaults by clerics and religious in Catholic education, under the effect of the rapid withdrawal of the clergy from these establishments”.

→ MAINTENANCE. Jean-Marc Sauvé: “We were confronted with the mystery of evil”

The decline has occurred in a more general context of professionalization of child care professions: “Catechism is now provided by lay people (mainly women); teaching in Catholic schools under contract is controlled by the national education system ”, recalls the document.

One in 300 students abused in public school

From the Debré law of 1959, the functioning of Catholic establishments has become closer to that of public establishments, which are also concerned, specifies the Sauvé commission. The general population survey with a representative sample of more than 28,000 people shows that 0.34% of French adults have, during their childhood or adolescence, suffered sexual violence in public schools. That is to say one alumnus out of 300.

A phenomenon that national education has struggled to see and take charge of. ” TOno systematic institutional action ” does not seem to have been undertaken before the turn of the years 1990-2000. “Until then, the ‘culture of suffocation’ and the movement of the personnel involved were the rule. “ And it was not until 2015 to see “The hardening and systematization of the verification of the criminal records of all personnel”.

The request for forgiveness from Catholic teaching

For those involved in Catholic education, this report is in any case the subject of a bombshell. “An extremely painful report, with terrible figures, but which is part of a real work of transparencyreacts Gilles Demarquez, the president of APEL. The goal today is to have a school that is safe, in which we can trust. “

For this representative of the parents, we must avoid any confusion. “A safe school is not a school without a priest, predators can be found among other adults. The referent priests must continue to play their role in the establishments. A safe school is a school capable of listening to the words of any young person who suffers and of detecting weak signals in them. “

Secretary General Philippe Delorme recalls that Catholic education has put in place from 2017 a system intended to prevent and deal with all forms of violence in establishments, from pedophilia to moral harassment, including all forms of violence. ordinary forms of violence. “We are in the process of training referents to raise even more awareness of all our staff, teachers and non-teachers”, he says.

Philippe Delorme says he feels “A lot of sadness, of compassion” for the victims. “Catholic education joins the words of Bishop Eric de Moulin-Beaufort and all the bishops, with a feeling of shame and a request for forgiveness addressed to all the victims and their families, whose trust the institution has betrayed. . “

→ SUPPORT. How to believe in the Church after sexual abuse?


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