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Church in Europe getting ready to fight clergy sex abuse

Referring to recent reports of sex-abuse scandals in France, French Bishop Jacques David of Evreux has responded to reports of sex abuse in France by outlining the Church's intention to "combat pedophilia assiduously", while the German Catholic bishops' conference has held its first meeting to define its position.

A national survey carried out by the French Bishops' Conference shows that 118 priests were under investigation for pedophilia. Thirty were convicted and 11 were jailed. The bishops responded with a dossier titled Combating Pedophilia: Points of Reference for Educators.

Written under the direction of Bishop David, it gathers the reflections of theologians, specialists in pastoral and youth morality, formators in seminaries, jurists, psychoanalysts, sexologists and journalists, to "contribute to the revelation and prevention of similar acts, while preserving the climate of trust indispensable for all life in society."

Set to be distributed to diocesan structures, Catholic institutes and lay movements, the dossier by its own words aims to provide "simple information on the very complex reality of 'pedophilia.'"

Meanwhile the German bishops met on Monday to establish the line of action to be taken in the face of abuse cases that have surfaced in all dioceses.

Cardinal Karl Lehmann, president of the bishops' conference, wants all dioceses to follow the same procedure when abuse cases are reported. The assembly is also discussing preventive measures.

In April, Cardinal Lehmann announced the establishment of a commission to investigate recent and older cases.

"This is the last great opportunity for the bishops to finally address these cases openly," he said.


30 Aug 2002