French bishops will sell assets from their dioceses or resort to loans to compensate victims of pedophilia within the Catholic Church, thus ruling out the use of donations from the faithful, said the president of the Episcopal Conference, Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, on Monday (8).
The prelates pledged to “nourish” the victims’ compensation fund, “by getting rid of the real estate of the Episcopal Conference of France and dioceses,” said Moulins-Beaufort.
At the end of their annual meeting at the pilgrimage center in Lourdes, southern France, diocesan authorities also decided to take out a loan “to anticipate needs,” he added.
Announced at a press conference after the meeting, the decision responds to one of the proposals of the independent commission that estimated at more than 216,000 the number of cases of sexual assault on minors committed by religious since 1950.
Another decision taken at the meeting was to instruct French jurist Marie Derain de Vaucresson, former defender of children and adolescents, to form an independent national body for recognition and reparation. The agency will be responsible for instructing the actions.
On Friday (5), the French bishops recognized the “institutional responsibility” of the Catholic Church and the “systemic dimension” of these attacks, in line with what was proposed by the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church.
Among 45 recommendations, the commission asked the institution, in October, to recognize its systemic, social and civil responsibility in the facts and to implement mechanisms for recognizing victims, such as public ceremonies, masses or memorials.
To finance compensation to victims, the commission asked that donations from the faithful be discarded as a source of funds. Instead, he proposed that they come from the heritage of the attackers and the Catholic Church in France, an issue also raised by the bishops last week.
Although the aim is to compensate victims with church property or loans, an official from the Episcopal Conference has said that it will not prevent the faithful from making donations for this purpose.