La Croix International [France]
June 28, 2023
By Isabelle de Gaulmyn
The Church must put an end to the idolatry that leads some people to revere their religious superiors uncritically, which helps fester all types of spiritual and sexual abuse
“This dark history is not the whole of our history.” We can understand that the superior general of the Brothers of Saint John, who, after issuing a damning report on the serious sexual and mystical abuses of its founder, would like to believe in a better future for his confreres.
But one wonders, what is “salvageable” in all this? It’s a legitimate question after reading the voluminous report, which shows that in less than ﬁfty years some 72 members of the community abused 167 others! The evil is all the more profound in that it directly concerns the founder.
Can this congregation, which once claimed to be the vanguard of the new evangelization, continue to exist? What spirituality and charism will it be able to draw upon? Not to mention the risk of continuing to train “deformed” people, given the feeling that perversity has taken root deep within the community and all the satellites that gravitate around it…
Yet we Christians are the ﬁrst to afﬁrm that there is always hope. Can we give up hope in a religious community? No, provided that the work of truth is truly done, and by everyone. And that the community now feels part of the Church as a whole, and not above it, as has too often been the case.
We must also put an end to the idolatry that leads some people to revere their superiors uncritically. This is an issue that is not limited to the Brothers of Saint John, but concerns the entire Church.
Catholics are not a society of the pure. We are sinners, who will emerge stronger from this process, however painful it may be. Evil can run deep within the Church. But it must not have the ﬁnal word.
Isabelle de Gaulmyn is a senior editor at La Croix and a former Vatican correspondent.