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French Bishops: creation of an “Independent Commission” for the fight and prevention of paedophilia inside the Church

The creation of an independent Commission of Inquiry with the involvement of the victims of abuse in future decisions regarding the fight and prevention of paedophilia inside the Church are the two major decisions taken by French bishops attending the Plenary Assembly in Lourdes. The bishops discussed the issue of sexual abuses in the light of what has emerged during the meeting with the victims on Saturday, November 3. In a release the Bishops’ Conference announced the creation of an Independent Commission tasked with “shedding light on cases of abuse on minors inside the Church starting from 1950 in order to comprehend – they state – the reasons underlying the ways in which such cases were handled in the past and make recommendations.” The tasks of the Commission include the evaluation of the measures adopted by the French Bishops’ Conference as of the year 2000. The Bishops’ Conference will announce the name of the person appointed to form the Commission, designate its members, and define its areas of responsibility, in the coming days. During their plenary meeting the French Bishops highlighted the importance of involving the victims in the execution of related initiatives that will be taken in the framework of “specific programs”, especially with regard to prevention and sensitization of this phenomenon. In view of the Plenary of 2019 the bishops have formed a dedicated study group to which dioceses are requested to contribute through the preservation of memory “by collecting the testimonies of the victims to better understand the motivations underlying the crimes.” Finally, the bishops are working on a system aimed at the financial compensation of the victims along with accompanying measures for priests who committed acts of paedophilia or who manifest a set of fragilities.

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