Culture

abuse in the Church, five women look the crisis in the face



I will listen to their cry, Five women’s views on the abuse crisis

Collective

Editions de l’Emmanuel, 172 p., €18

A year ago, the Sauvé report revealed the extent of the abuses committed in the Catholic Church since 1950, the figures and the causes of systemic dysfunctions, and delivered its recommendations. Among these, giving more space to women, in a clerical system where the abusers (98%) and the victims (80%) were mostly men. Making the singular voice of women heard in this crisis of abuse is the great merit of this work whose authors – four xavières and a friend of the congregation – are not content with an analysis in the form of a denunciation of the mechanisms, but start from their personal history and their own skills to open up courses of action.

Whether it is the criminologist Thérèse de Villette, the theologian Geneviève Comeau, the exegete Joëlle Ferry, the philosopher Agata Zielinski or Monique Baujard, who held responsibilities at the Conference of Bishops of France from 1999, all start from the shock that represented for them the reception of the Sauvé report. Will we be able to hear “the prophet’s cry” what does he represent for our time?, asks one of them.

“Getting out of yourself”

Over the pages, two words come back, ” glance ” and “conversion”. The Church can only be transformed in depth if the gaze, the angle of approach change. And on this point, each in its own way lucidly names the places where the institution has blinded itself to itself.

So the “competent outsider” – multidisciplinary – have experts from Ciase enabled “this just distance with regard to oneself (here, the ecclesial institution) which does not immediately turn into self-justification”, notes Agata Zielinski. He offered the possibility of “to come out of oneself”, “get out of the idea that only the Church can speak to the Church”while all truth is “always relational”.

Reminiscent of the time when she thought of herself as “perfect society”, the ecclesial institution had, in fact, forgotten that it remained a human organization, capable of doing harm, of causing victims, rereads Monique Baujard, wondering about the reasons for which the work carried out twenty years ago did not bear fruit. The Abuse Crisis Has Revealed a Church “in a vacuum and who is not used to being accountable to anyone”. She believed herself ” Above the fight “, forgetting to think about human weakness and therefore to acquire tools to prevent abuses. It neglected, more broadly, the human factor, further notes Monique Baujard, inviting us to develop “a sense of social responsibility”.

Return to Callings of the Prophets

The predominance of a theology of evil, inherited from Saint Augustine and centered on sin, over another tradition of biblical origin which placed greater emphasis on the evil suffered and on the innocent may also have biased the gaze, analysis the theologian Geneviève Comeau. The focus on the sinner (first theological current) must not overshadow the focus on the victim”. she underlines, inviting like Joëlle Ferry to return to the calls of the prophets for more justice and to put at the center the fragile people, in particular the victims of abuse. In their eyes, this is how the ecclesial communities will be reformed.

A gaze that transforms is still a question in restorative justice, of which Thérèse de Villette has a long experience and which she proposes as an incomparable way for the healing of victims as well as as an effective means of fighting against the recidivism of aggressors. This process, which brings together victims and aggressors who do not know each other a priori, offers the possibility for the former to express to the end what oppresses them and for the latter to regain a capacity for empathy for the other.

This book is the proof, if it were still needed, that the ecclesial institution has everything to gain, to be truly “expert in humanity”, to really listen and to take into account the point of view of women.



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