Monastic hospitality… but to what extent?

La Croix

June 24, 2020

By Céline Hoyeau and Gauthier Vaillant

Famous for their hospitality, monasteries are often asked to house criminals or priests guilty of being pedophiles

A year ago, Jean-Claude Romand traded his prison cell for the monastic cloister.

He was released on parole on June 28, 2019 after spending 26 years in jail for murdering his wife, their two children and his parents.

Romand was an impostor who pretended to be a medical doctor for 18 years prior to the murders. He converted to Catholicism while in prison and, since being paroled, he’s been living at the traditionalist Benedictine Abbey of Fontgombault in central France.

He is not the first notorious criminal to seek refuge in a monastery.

In the late 1970s, the Benedictine Abbey of Sainte-Anne de Kergonan, near the Bay of Biscay, took in the double murderer Guy Desnoyers.

There was also Michelle Martin, companion of the Belgian pedophile murderer Marc Dutroux. She spent three years in a Poor Clare monastery near Namur after being paroled in 2012.

In recent years, bishops have also begun to use monasteries as residents for priests guilty of or awaiting trial for sexual abuse.

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