French Catholic Church Counts Over 3,000 Child Victims Of Sex Abuse

General view of an empty St Lucia's Cathedral in Colombo on March 15, 2020, following the Sri Lanka's Catholic church announcement to call off their masses as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus. Ishara S. KODIKARA / AFP
General view of an empty St Lucia’s Cathedral in Colombo on March 15, 2020, following the Sri Lanka’s Catholic church announcement to call off their masses as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Ishara S. KODIKARA / AFP

 

 

At least 3,000 children have fallen victim to sex abuse in the French Catholic Church since 1950, a commission set up to examine claims estimated Wednesday, adding that the real number may be much higher.

The commission’s president Jean-Marc Sauve said preliminary figures suggested some 1,500 clergy and other Church officials carried out the abuse.

The commission was set up last June at the request of French bishops after a series of paedophilia cases that rocked the Church in France and abroad.

A hotline urging victims to come forward has received 5,300 calls over the past year, Sauve told journalists in a video conference.

The number of estimated victims represents more than 40 cases per year on average over the past seven decades.

“I am deeply convinced that there are many more victims,” Sauve said.

“What we do not know is how to consolidate these two sources” of potential cases — the hotline and the commission’s own inquiries, he said.

The call for witnesses has been extended to October 31 and reviews of Church archives have resumed after being suspended during France’s coronavirus lockdown.

Pope Francis has vowed to confront criminal offences in the Church’s ranks, including several cases in which top officials knew of sexual assault but failed to inform the authorities.

Last year, Francis passed a measure obliging those with knowledge of child sexual abuse to report it to their superiors, a move that was expected to bring numerous new cases to light.

The commission headed by Sauve, a high-ranking civil servant, includes legal experts, doctors, historians, sociologists, and theologians.

It is expected to produce a final report next year with recommendations on how to prevent abuse.

Payouts planned
Victims’ associations have applauded the French Church’s pledge of transparency, having long accused its senior officials of covering up paedophilia cases to protect priests from prosecution.

In the most recent high-profile case, a defrocked Catholic priest was given a five-year jail term in March for sexually abusing boy scouts in his care several decades ago.

Bernard Preynat, 75, had confessed at his trial in the southeastern city of Lyon to “caresses” he knew were forbidden after victims testified of the abuses they suffered at his hands.

He faulted the Church hierarchy, saying “They should have helped me… They let me become a priest.”

The scandal became the subject of an acclaimed film last year titled “Grace a Dieu” (By the Grace of God) by director Francois Ozon, who worked with some of the victims.

But in January, an appeals court overturned the conviction of Preynat’s superior, Lyon’s former archbishop Philippe Barbarin, for not reporting the abuse despite knowing about it for years.

The court said that while Barbarin should have informed the authorities, he was not criminally liable for his lack of action.

French bishops agreed last November to provide financial compensation to victims of sex abuse by priests.

The potential sums were set to be discussed in April, with priority for victims from several years ago whose cases are beyond the statute of limitations for prosecution.

But the coronavirus lockdown halted such meetings until further notice.

-AFP

Catholic Bishops Donate Over 400 Hospitals To Be Used As Isolation Centres In Nigeria

 

The Catholic Bishop Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) has offered over 400 health facilities across the nation to now be used as COVID-19 isolation centres.

Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha disclosed this at the presidential task force briefing on Monday.

He disclosed that the facilities can now be used by the government to tackle the issue of no bed spaces currently been experienced in various isolation centres across the country.

Mr Mustapha who doubles as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, had told newsmen in Abuja on Friday that the isolation and treatment centres in the country are running out of bed spaces.

READ ALSO: Over 600 Evacuees In Lagos And Abuja, We Are Reaching Saturation Point – Onyeama

The SGF, however, noted that efforts are being intensified to increase the number of treatment centres in the country.

“We have received reports from the states, which suggests that the treatment centres are running out of bed spaces. As we assess the situation, the PTF shall also begin to examine our peculiar circumstances, modify the strategies for care management, and consider viable alternatives, where necessary. At the appropriate time, the guidelines and protocols shall be unfolded,” he said.

The PTF Chairman also on Monday noted that during the first week of the lockdown relaxation, the nation had experienced a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases due to increased testing.

He called on states to set up isolation centres to accommodate level one and two of isolation, noting that the PTF will introduce an inclusive policy in the coming weeks.

Mr Mustapha who stressed that President Muhammadu Buhari took a painful decision to ease the lockdown, urged individuals not to misuse the opportunity by returning to their  Pre-COVID-19 ways of life.

The Secretary to the Federation also hinted that he has received instructions from President Buhari to bring in some of the Madagascar cure from Guinea Bissau.

He, however, noted that there are strict instructions to have the Madagascar cure subjected to the validation processes in Nigeria.

Catholic Church Forgives Sins Of Those Stricken By Coronavirus

General view of an empty St Lucia's Cathedral in Colombo on March 15, 2020, following the Sri Lanka's Catholic church announcement to call off their masses as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus. Ishara S. KODIKARA / AFP
General view of an empty St Lucia’s Cathedral in Colombo on March 15, 2020, following the Sri Lanka’s Catholic church announcement to call off their masses as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus. Ishara S. KODIKARA / AFP

 

The Catholic Church on Friday granted forgiveness — under certain conditions — for the sins of the faithful struck by the novel coronavirus.

A decree published by the Vatican also covers healthcare workers and those who pray for their wellbeing. Relatives who care for their sick family members may also be forgiven.

The conditions include the sick saying a certain number of prayers or following important celebrations from a distance.

Those who pray for the caregivers’ wellbeing must also read the Bible “for at least half an hour”.

The decree was issued one day after Italy overtook China for the most number of deaths from the new illness.

The pandemic has killed more than 3,400 people in the Mediterranean country.

Vatican City itself has confirmed one infection.

Pope Francis was reported to have been tested for the virus as a precaution after coming down with a cold last month.

The Vatican has never confirmed or denied the report but has stressed repeatedly that the 83-year-old pontiff does not have COVID-19.

AFP

Pope Francis’ Decision To Rule Out Married Priests Divides Opinion

Hungarian President Janos Ader (L) gestures as he meets with Pope Francis during a private audience at the Vatican, on February 14, 2020. Vincenzo PINTO / POOL / AFP
Hungarian President Janos Ader (L) gestures as he meets with Pope Francis during a private audience at the Vatican, on February 14, 2020. Vincenzo PINTO / POOL / AFP

 

In quashing the idea of married priests in the Amazon, Pope Francis has appeased traditionalists while disappointing progressives who had hoped for a historic turning point in the Catholic church.

In his “apostolic exhortation” on the Amazon basin published Wednesday, Francis slammed the door on a progressive proposal offered by the region’s bishops during a synod on the region in October.

The synod had suggested that the way to solve a shortage of priests in the remote and inaccessible area was to allow married indigenous men to become priests.

Without even mentioning that proposal, Francis instead argued for more missionary priests in the Amazon and for women and lay people to take on larger roles, falling short of another synod idea to ordain women as deacons in the region.

The Argentine pontiff’s thoughts, coming after months of speculation and hand-wringing within the Vatican, were welcomed by some, including a vocal opponent of Francis, German Cardinal Gerhard Mueller.

For five years Mueller was in charge of church dogma, holding the key Vatican post of Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith until 2017 — when he was not reappointed by Francis.

Mueller saluted the document’s potential for “reducing internal Church factions.”

Conservatives within the Church were outraged by the regional synod’s proposal, even were it to be an exception limited to the Amazon, seeing it as potentially paving the way to the abolition of priest celibacy globally.

US Cardinal Raymond Burke, a staunch traditionalist, suggested last year that Francis would be heading into a “schism” were he to give his stamp of approval to the synod’s proposals.

Failing to reform?

But to others, the text lacked the audacity that has marked the papacy of the first Jesuit pope.

Francis’ document marked a “failure in the reforming impulse of the pontificate,” according to longtime Vatican analyst Marco Politi.

The pope, “abruptly slowed down” by a strong and multifaceted opposition, also disappointed those local Amazon bishops whom he had called on to offer up new ideas to help guide the Church, Politi said.

“Francis finds himself more alone today, having caused disillusionment among a notable mass of his supporters,” Politi said.

Key among them are Catholic feminist organisations, some of whom have been fighting for women’s access to the priesthood.

In his text, Francis cited the contributions of women and argued that their roles be increased, but dismissed the idea of their ordination.

Women’s Ordination Worldwide (WOW) said Francis had “dropped the ball” for women within the Church.

“Francis has opted to perpetuate the shameful elitist men’s club that, as he so brazenly points out in the document, is held up by the second class status of women who do most of the work with none of the recognition,” the group said in a statement.

Still, the issues of women’s ordination, and married priests, are not dead, some say.

The German Church, which contains a strong progressive branch, has just launched a two-year debate on top controversial issues, including the end of priestly celibacy and a greater place for women.

Meanwhile, Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, a proponent of priestly marriage, sees the question as still open, telling the publication Estadao: “It will be taken up again.”

 

AFP

Ex-Pope Benedict Seeks Removal Of Name From ‘Controversial’ Celibacy Book

Pope Benedict XVI waves as he leads the Sunday Angelus prayer in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican.

 

Former pope Benedict XVI has asked that his name be removed from a controversial new book in which he comes down firmly against married priests, his secretary told Italian newswire ANSA. 

The book, excerpts of which were published on Sunday by French newspaper Le Figaro, set off a firestorm with some Vatican experts wondering whether ultra-conservatives within the Vatican were taking advantage of the 92-year old pope emeritus, who has mostly remained out of the limelight since his retirement in 2013.

Benedict’s private secretary, Georg Gaenswein, told ANSA that on behalf of the former pope he asked the book’s co-author, Cardinal Robert Sarah, “to contact the publishers of the book begging them to remove the name of Benedict XVI as co-author of the book itself and also to remove his signature from the introduction and conclusions.”

In the book, Benedict is quoted as writing “I cannot keep silent!” about the issue of loosening the rules over clerical celibacy.

Pope Francis is currently considering whether to allow “viri probati” — married “men of proven virtue” — to join the priesthood in certain circumstances, such as in remote locations like the Amazon where communities seldom have Mass due to a lack of priests. He is expected to publish his decision in the coming weeks.

The book in question, “From the Depth of our Hearts,” was expected to hit bookshelves in France on Wednesday with images of the former pope and Cardinal Sarah on the cover.

Gaenswein said Benedict was aware that a book was in the works and had sent his own text authorising Sarah to “make use of it as he wanted”.

“But he hadn’t approved any plans for a double signature book nor had he seen and authorised the cover,” Gaenswein said.

It is unclear which passages in the book came from Benedict and which were written by Sarah.

Church Is Losing Influence, Pope Warns

 

 

Pope Francis on Saturday called on church leaders for a “change in mentality”, saying the Christian faith is less heeded — even ignored — in the modern world. 

New methods were needed to help “reposition our ways of thinking and our attitudes”, the pope warned in his traditional Christmas greetings to the Roman Curia, the Vatican’s top administrative body.

“We are no longer the only ones today to produce culture, neither the first nor the most listened to,” the Argentinian pontiff said.

“We are no longer in a regime of Christianity because faith — especially in Europe, but also in a large part of the West — is no longer an obvious presupposition of living together; worse, it is often denied, mocked, marginalised and ridiculed.”

The change requires “a change in pastoral mentality,” said the Jesuit pope, the first from Latin America in the history of the Catholic Church.

Since becoming pope in 2013, Francis has sought to shake up the powerful and conservative Curia. But he has continued to be met by resistance from many members of the body who reject greater control over their freedom and finances.

In previous Christmas greetings, Francis has taken a harsher tone against the cardinals and bishops within the Curia, calling out “cliques” and “traitors” within the bureaucracy.

Francis has created new “dicasteries,” or ministries, such as in communication, to better respond to a more digitised culture and try to break down the silos between different departments.

In his speech on Saturday, Francis also warned against “the temptation to fall back on the past” instead of “engaging in significant changes”.

Such “rigidity,” he said, “arises from the fear of change that ends up spreading stakes and obstacles in the land of common good, transforming it into a landmine of incommunicability and hate”

AFP

Pope Lifts Papal Secrecy For Sex Abuse Cases

(File) Pope Francis speaks as as Prefect of the papal household Georg Gaenswein (L) looks on during an audience with participants in the Course on the Internal Forum, on March 29, 2019 at Paul-VI hall in the Vatican. Andreas SOLARO / AFP

 

Pope Francis has waived the ability to cite papal secrecy in dealing with sexual abuse cases, the Vatican said on Tuesday in a statement.

So-called “pontifical secrecy” is a rule of confidentiality designed to protect sensitive information related to the governance of the Roman Catholic Church.

More to follow…

Pope To Create 13 New Cardinals In October

Pope Francis with some Cardinals at the Vatican in Rome, Italy. Source: AFP

 

Pope Francis said Sunday he will create 13 new Catholic cardinals next month, 10 of whom are under 80 years old and therefore eligible to vote for his successor.

Francis made the surprise announcement during his weekly Angelus address, and said they would be appointed on October 5.

The appointments come as the Argentine pontiff gradually shapes a less European college of cardinals.

The newcomers hail from North America, Central America, Africa, Europe and Asia, and Francis says “their origin expresses the missionary vocation of the Church”.

READ ALSO: Pope Says Got Stuck In Vatican Lift, Freed By Fireman

The new “princes” of the Church, who will be appointed at a special ceremony known as a consistory, come from countries including Cuba, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia and Morocco.

Those under age 80 will be able to take part in the next secret conclave to elect the head of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, who is chosen from among the cardinals.

As well as having that key role, cardinals often also hold the highest administrative offices in the church.

Among those named was Archbishop Matteo Zuppi of Bologna, who the Vatican’s consultant to the Communications secretariat James Martin said was “a great supporter of LGBT Catholics”.

The Tablet’s Vatican expert Christopher Lamb said the pope’s nominations “reflect his priority to build bridges with other religions… and to support migrants”.

Those set to receive a cardinal’s red hat include Michael Czerny SJ, head of the Migrants and Refugees section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, an English expert on Christian-Muslim relations.

AFP

Gunmen Kill Four At Catholic Parade In Burkina Faso

 

Gunmen killed four Catholics in a religious procession in northern Burkina Faso a day after a priest and five parishioners were murdered at mass, church officials said Tuesday.

The parade with a statue of the Virgin Mary was moving through the town of Ouahigouya on Monday when “a group of terrorists intercepted the procession, killing four worshippers and burning the statue,” said a spokesman for the Ouagadougou Cathedral.

According to the Burkina Faso news agency AIB, the assailants stopped the procession. “They let the minors go, executed four adults, and destroyed the statue,” it quoted a local person as saying.

Paul Ouedraogo, president of the Episcopal Conference of Burkina Faso and Niger, told a meeting of bishops in the capital Ouagadougou the attack had claimed four lives.

The killings came a day after a group of 20-30 armed men, according to witnesses, burst into the Catholic church in Dablo, also in the Nord Region of Burkina Faso, shooting dead five parishioners and their priest.

The attackers set fire to the church, several shops and a small cafe before heading to the health centre, which they looted, burning the chief nurse’s vehicle.

Two days earlier, French special forces had freed four foreign hostages in Burkina Faso during an overnight raid that cost the lives of two soldiers.

“This concerns all of us whatever our religion or ethnicity,” said President Roch Marc Christian Kabore.

“Stick together”

Kabore urged his compatriots to “stick together,” warning such attacks threatened to undermine religious coexistence in a country where some two thirds of the population are Muslim to one third Christian.

“Burkina Faso is confronted by a difficult situation,” said Kabore. “These terrorists have remodelled their modus operandi. First, by creating inter-communcal conflicts and today inter-religious conflicts as Christians have been killed for their faith, for merely practising their religion.

“Burkina has always been reputed as being a tolerant country. We must work to safeguard this richness passed down to us by our ancestors,” said Kabore, a Catholic.

Two weeks ago, there was a similar attack against a Protestant church in Silgadji, also in the north, when gunmen on motorbikes killed a pastor and five worshippers.

Burkina has suffered from increasingly frequent and deadly attacks attributed to a number of jihadist groups, including the Ansarul Islam group, the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.

The raids began in 2015 in the north before targeting the capital Ouagadougou and other regions, notably in the east.

Nearly 400 people have been killed since 2015 — mainly in hit-and-run raids — according to an AFP tally.

Jihadist groups target Christian clerics as well as Muslim ones they do not consider sufficiently radical in a country where traditionally both religions have co-existed peaceably.

Last month, jihadists attacked a village school in Maitaougou, in the eastern province of Koulpelogo, killing five teachers and a municipal worker.

Former colonial ruler France has deployed 4,500 troops in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad in a mission codenamed Barkhane to help local forces flush out jihadists.

Sri Lanka’s Catholic church Doubts Govt’s Ability To Prosecute Attackers

Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena watches a cultural show at Independence Square in Colombo.  Ishara S. KODIKARA / AFP

 

The head of Sri Lanka’s Roman Catholics Sunday expressed fears that an official investigation into Easter bombings that killed 253 people will end up a “flop”, casting doubt on the government’s ability to bring the attackers to justice.

Speaking to reporters at his first public appearance since last week’s attacks on churches and hotels, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith slammed what he described as Sri Lanka’s culture of impunity, saying many high-profile assassinations over the past 30 years had remained largely unsolved.

READ ALSO: Pope Francis Calls For Evacuation Of Refugees In Libya Camps

“There is a certain amount of suspicion among our people that there will be no more follow up, only words…. If they (the authorities) are sincere, they must have a thorough investigation,” he said.

The cardinal said he had heard that President Maithripala Sirisena had appointed a commission of inquiry into the massacre.

“But we never heard if that commission had any sittings. Nothing at all, we were never consulted. We are afraid that this commission might just end up being a flop,” he said at a candlelight vigil organised by a state-owned newspaper company.

Police say they have arrested more than 150 people suspected to be involved with the coordinated suicide bombings that devastated three luxury hotels and three churches, two of which are Roman Catholic.

The cardinal has repeatedly assailed the authorities for failing to share intelligence reports that had warned of an impending jihadist attack against Christians, saying he felt “betrayed” by the government.

“If they warned me, I would have cancelled the Easter services,” he said Sunday at a privately televised mass after he ordered all Catholic church services to be suspended.

AFP

700 Catholic Clergy Accused Of Sexual abuse In Illinois

 

About 700 clergymen in Illinois have been accused of child sexual assault, a far greater number than the Catholic Church had previously disclosed, the Midwestern US state’s top prosecutor revealed Wednesday.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said the Church’s revelations that 185 clergy members were credibly accused of sexual abuse fell short of the number her office has uncovered.

The preliminary results of an investigation that began in August found more than 500 additional priests and clergy members with sexual abuse allegations in the Midwestern state’s six dioceses — a total of at least 685 accused.

In a scathing statement, the attorney general’s office criticized the Church’s handling of the abuse allegations, saying investigations were lacking, and in many cases, law enforcement and child welfare authorities were not notified.

“The preliminary stages of this investigation have already demonstrated that the Catholic Church cannot police itself,” Madigan said.

She added that the Church had failed to provide “a complete and accurate accounting of all sexually inappropriate behavior involving priests in Illinois.”

The Illinois investigation was prompted by a sweeping grand jury report in August that revealed credible allegations against more than 300 suspected predator priests and identified over 1,000 victims of child sex abuse covered up for decades by the Catholic Church in the state of Pennsylvania.

In October, federal authorities for the first time opened an investigation into clergy abuse. Dioceses in the state reported receiving federal grand jury subpoenas to produce documents.

– Shocking and expected –
The Archdiocese of Chicago, the largest of the Illinois dioceses, countered Madigan’s report by insisting that all abuse claims are investigated and reported to authorities.

“Since 2006, we have published the names of diocesan priests with substantiated allegations of abuse, and in 2014 we released more than 20,000 documents from these priests’ files,” the archiocese said in a statement.

But Madigan’s office said allegations of abuse have often not been adequately investigated if they are scrutinized at all. Among the reasons for the lack of action were that the accused was deceased or had already resigned.

READ ALSO: Church Will ‘Never Again’ Ignore Abuse Accusations – Pope

“This report is both shocking and exactly what we expected,” Zach Hiner, executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), told AFP.

“We’ve known for a long time that church officials have been ignoring and minimizing allegations of abuse and this report is just yet another proof point that it is a systemic issue, not a highly localized one.”

– Mounting pressure –
Since the state investigation opened, the dioceses have added another 45 clergy members to their official lists of those credibly accused of committing child sexual abuse, according to Madigan’s office.

The attorney general anticipated additional names will be disclosed as her investigation continues.

“Allegations of sexual abuse of minors, even if they stem from conduct that occurred many years ago, cannot be treated as internal personnel matters,” Madigan said.

The Catholic Church has been hit by a series of child abuse scandals in recent years, with widespread allegations of coverups. And public pressure has been mounting on its institutions.

This month, authorities of the Jesuit order overseeing at least 40 US states released the names of more than 240 members who have been credibly accused of abuse — including dozens of priests with multiple allegations.

Jesuits are the largest male religious order in the Catholic Church, with some 16,000 members worldwide who do not fall directly under the Church’s hierarchy.

They operate 30 colleges and 81 schools in the United States and Canada.

Jesuits release list of 89 US priests accused of sex abuse

Jesuit authorities for 20 US states on Monday released the names of 89 priests with credible allegations of child sexual abuse dating as far back as 1950.

The disclosures by the Jesuit provinces of Maryland and USA Midwest are the latest chapter in the ongoing sexual abuse scandal roiling the Catholic Church and come after 153 Jesuits were publicly identified by two other provinces earlier this month.

Maryland released 24 names with allegations dating back to 1950 and USA Midwest released 65 names dating back to 1955. Many of the individuals are deceased, and some were previously publicly known to be accused of sexual assault.

“On behalf of the Midwest Jesuits, I apologize to victim-survivors and their families for the harm and suffering you have endured. Many of you have suffered in silence for decades,” Brian Paulson, head of the USA Midwest province, said in an open letter.

Jesuits are the largest male religious order in the Catholic Church, with some 16,000 members worldwide. They operate 30 colleges and 81 schools in the United States and Canada.

The names made public Monday included dozens of priests with multiple allegations of abuse who served in educational institutions.

– Decades of abuse, errors dating to 1930s –
The priest with the most recent allegations was Donald McGuire, who died in federal prison in 2017 while serving a 25-year sentence. His was among the names that had been previously publicized.

Numerous men have accused McGuire of molesting them when they were boys. The first allegations dated to the 1950s, when he worked at a Jesuit private high school in Chicago, and went as late as 2005.

“Most of the Jesuits on our list entered religious life from the 1930’s through the early 1960’s. In retrospect, our evaluation of candidates, as well as the training, formation, and supervision of Jesuits, was not adequate,” Paulson said.

He added that the organization had learned from its mistakes, and has improved training for Jesuits and was holding them accountable if abuse allegations are made.

The latest revelations came as religious orders are starting to face similar scrutiny to the rest of the Catholic Church and are embarking on efforts at transparency.

– Lists ‘incomplete’ –
Earlier this month, provinces overseeing Jesuits in more than 20 western, southern and central US states released lists of 153 members accused of child sexual abuse.

The Maryland province’s leader, who is known as the provincial, said Monday’s release was meant to provide transparency and accountability, and that an external audit of the organization’s files would be conducted “to ensure that our previous reviews were both accurate and complete.”

“We are deeply sorry for the harm we have caused to victims and their families,” the provincial, Robert Hussey, said in an open letter published on the organization’s website.

“We view the disclosure today of our shameful history as part of our commitment now to preventing abuse.”

A victim’s advocacy group welcomed the disclosures but noted that they came only after sustained public pressure, including from prosecutors.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) criticized the Jesuit order for keeping accused priests’ names secret for decades and called for an independent investigation by law enforcement.

“Too often, lists are released that are incomplete or carefully curated by church officials, and so by inviting an independent investigation, Jesuit officials can demonstrate to parishioners and the public their commitment to transparency and healing,” SNAP said in a statement.

“Such an investigation would be the only way to determine who knew what, when they knew it, and what they chose to do with that information.”

The Catholic Church has been hit by a series of child abuse scandals in recent years, with widespread allegations of cover-ups.

In August, a devastating US report on child sex abuse claimed more than 300 “predator” priests abused more than 1,000 minors over seven decades in the state of Pennsylvania.

Catholic Church Beatifies 19 Slain Clerics In Algeria’s Oran

Religious art cover the walls of the Basilica of Lisieux, northwestern France, on December 3, 2018.
CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

 

The Catholic Church beatified in the city of Oran on Saturday seven French monks and 12 other clergies killed during Algeria’s civil war, the first ceremony of its kind in a Muslim nation.

May “Monsignor Pierre Claverie… and his 18 companions, faithful messengers of the Gospel, humble artisans of peace… from now on be called blessed,” said papal envoy Cardinal Angelo Becciu, reading the decree of beatification, the first step on the path to Roman Catholic sainthood.

Claverie, 58, was killed with his driver on August 1, 1996, when a remote-controlled bomb exploded at his residence in Oran.

He was among 19 clergy to be beatified, after their murders in a series of grisly atrocities between 1994 and 1996.

The ceremony was held under tight security at the esplanade of the Chapel of our Lady of Santa Cruz overlooking the Mediterranean city.

Some 1,200 people attended the ceremony, including pilgrims, relatives and friends of the beatified, many of whom came from abroad.

Opening the ceremony, Archbishop Paul Desfarges of Algiers paid tribute to “the thousands and thousands of victims of the Algerian civil war”, describing them as anonymous heroes.

A minute of silence was then observed.

Algeria’s 1991-2002 war between government forces and Islamists left up to 200,000 people dead.

In a message read during the ceremony by Becciu, Pope Francis spoke of his hope that “this celebration helps to heal the wounds of the past and create a new dynamic of meeting and living together”.

The 19 clergy were declared martyrs by the Vatican in January 2018, since they were slain “in odium fidei”, or out of hatred for the faith.

Pope Francis himself spoke of the beatification in prayers at Saint Peter’s Square in the Vatican on Saturday.

“May this beatification be an incentive for all to build a world of fraternity and solidarity together”, the pope said.