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April 06, 2016

As France Shakes from Priest Pedophilia Scandal, Bishop Announces He's Not Sure If He'd Say That Pedophilia Is a Sin

The scandal as been going on for a few months. From 1971 to 1991, a priest molested young Catholic Scouts under his care. (Note: The Catholic Scouts spoken of here are plainly a French Catholic youth organization having nothing to do with the Boy Scouts of America, but, I'm guessing, patterned after them.)

The pattern is all too familiar.

The events in question stretch back 40 years. In 1971, a young and charismatic priest, Bernard Preynet, became leader of a troop of Catholic Boy Scouts near Lyons. During the 20 years he remained at this post, hundreds of adolescents passed through. La Parole Libérée (The Liberated Voice), an association formed by victims, charges that Preynet sexually abused as many as 60 youths. (The Tribune de Lyon offered a more conservative estimate, quoting an anonymous source, himself a victim, stating that Preynet "had abused 20 kids.")

In 1991, as rumors percolated, Preynat confessed to his superiors about his activity. Moreover, he sent letters to the families of the children he had molested, in which he confessed to his actions, insisted he was as scarred by them as were his young charges, and -- remarkably -- refused to quit his position. "How could I, like a thief during the night, leave the parish where I had lived for 20 years and did not do only bad things?"

The families did not pursue charges, and ecclesiastical authorities packed Preynat off to central France, where he served for nearly 25 years in several rural parishes. While no longer a scout leader, his duties nevertheless brought him into contact with children. When several former scouts, now in their 40s, finally brought charges against Preynat in 2015, the Lyonnais diocese lurched into action. They released a communiqué that confirmed the truth of the accusations, but also reassured their parishioners that the priest, a quarter of a century after his serial molestations in Lyon, had been removed from all pastoral duties and only now was "forbidden to have any contact with children.

One of the highest-ranking cardinals in France is alleged to have known about this, but did not tattle on the priest. The Cardinal Phillipe Barbarin denies this.

But the Cardinal is facing criminal charges over "failure to denounce a crime" -- I guess in France you have an affirmative duty to report crimes that you know about.

There are more grisly details about the pedophilia spree in that article.

Now a bishop says he's not sure if he would say that pedophilia is truly a sin.

For the bishop of Pontoise, Stanislas Lalanne, pedophilia is "an evil" but he "didn't know that he would say" if it's a sin.

His remarks shocked the victims of a pedophile priest in Lyon who were filled with emotion Wednesday. "Pedophilia is an evil. Is it on the order of a sin? That, I don't know that I'd say, it's different for each person. But it's an evil and the first thing to do is to is to protect the victims or future victims," he declared Tuesday on RCF, a network of 63 radio French-speaking Christian radio stations.


A little later, several listeners upset by his remarks re-started the discussion and the Bishop explained: "It's a great evil. That much is very, very clear. Is it a sin or not? I don't know and that might be different according to each [person]. Thus we can't generalize," added the religious official.

"The difficulty is what awareness does the person have of this evil? What responsibility does he feel? When one commits a sin, one has awareness that one wounds the relationship with another, and in wounding the relationship with another, one woulds the relationship with God," he explained.

"We're on the order of sin but is this man a sinner in the strict sense of the term? I don't know if I can say that, in every case, we can't speak in general terms," concluded Stanislas Lalanne.

He seems to be saying that it's a sin if you think it's a sin, and if you don't think it's a sin, it's not.

It seems like these people should not be in any kind of position in a church -- but this type of person, altogether useless physically and economically and also entirely malleable morally, always seems to find an easy route to promotion within every corporate/government/institutional bureaucratic structure.

Okay that's my translation for the day. I'll put another story up soon.

(Note: "un mal" -- "an evil" -- could also be translated as merely "a wrong." Or "an ill."

I erred in the Bishop's favor and translated it as "an evil," though it's possible he's only saying it's "a wrong" or "an ill." Given the strange distinction he's making between "an evil" and "a sin," it does sound like he more means pedophilia is "a wrong," but not necessarily a sin.)

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posted by Ace at 06:00 PM

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