Break the silence: French bishops start dialogue with children of priests

National Catholic Reporter

June 26, 2019

By Elisabeth Auvillain

As the Catholic Church of France is coming to terms with scandals of clergy sexual abuse and abused women religious, other victims of canon law have been asking for recognition. They are the sons and daughters of priests.

Following a promise made in February, three children of priests met June 13 with Bourges Archbishop Jérôme Beau, president of the French bishops’ Commission for Ordained Ministers and Lay Ecclesial Ministers.

“This was a very encouraging meeting, said Anne-Marie Mariani, one of the three members who were representing the group she founded, Enfants du Silence or “Children of Silence.”

She said the meeting with Beau is just the beginning and that another is planned for October.

“The church has agreed to open its archives and help children of priests know more about their fathers,” she said. Children of priests “often find out the truth only upon their [father’s] death,” she noted. “We are now hopeful that these situations won’t happen again.”

She added there is no way to know how many children of priests there are in France.

Beau said, “What matters is first to listen to these children of silence who express their suffering and to understand what is at stake.”

This meeting comes at a time when the French Catholic Church is trying to regain credibility after damaging revelations of numerous sexual and spiritual abuses by priests toward children and women religious.

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