Statement by Nadia Debbache, ECA Assembly Member and Lead Counsel for La Parole Libérée.
November 4. 2018. French priest Pierre Vignon, a judge of the Officiality or Ecclesiasticel Court of Lyon (France) has just been sanctioned for publicly asking for the resignation of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon.
Barbarin will be on trial at the criminal court in Lyon in January 2019 for failing to report the sexual abuse of more than 70 children by Fr Bernard Preynat in the 1980s and 1990s.
Last August Vignon launched an online petition calling for the resignation of Barbarin. The petition collected more than 105,000 signatures.
Under the pretext of a technicality in church law, and designed to punish Vigonon for his public stand against Barbarin, twelve bishops of the region Auvergne Rhône-Alpes have refused to renew his position as a canonical judge, a function he has exercised since 2002.
Vignon was merely following the recommendations of Pope Francis to fight against the clericalism in the church that has allowed the cover up of child sex crimes. He should be commended for his courage, not punished for it.
Vignon is among a growing number of individuals from within the church, including clerics, who are standing with victims of clergy sexual abuse and demanding that bishops who have failed to protect children be held accountable and brought to justice. The actions of the French hierarchy is clearly meant to silence and deter others like him.
That is why human rights activists and survivors of sexual abuse in France and elsewhere stand with Vignon, even if his superiors will not. The true church desperately needs clergy like Vignon during this time of crisis who are willing to follow his example, regardless of the consequences. True church leaders are those who are willing to fight the system of clerical corruption that has allowed abuse to flourish in the church. They are examples of ethical courage. And the church desperately needs more of them.
Nadia Debbache, ECA Assembly Member and Lead Counsel for La Parole Libérée
Ending Clergy Abuse (ECA) is a worldwide organization of survivors and human rights activists who compel the Roman Catholic Church to end clergy abuse, especially child sexual abuse, in order to protect children and to seek justice for victims. ECA assembly members represent over 18 countries and 4 continents. https://www.ecaglobal.org – @ENDCLERGYABUSE –firstname.lastname@example.org