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French bishops hold day of prayer, fasting for sex abuse victims

The French Catholic Church pleaded for forgiveness after months of revelations of sexual abuse by priests. A commission has been set up to determine the extent of abuse.

French priests and bishops took part in a day of prayer and fasting Monday to plead for forgiveness for the "sexual abuse scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church over the previous months.

Bishop Luc Crepy, who gave the homily during a Mass at the Rosary basilica, said his fellow members of the church will play their part in "this fight against scandalous and criminal actions."

Crepy, who was appointed as the head of a church panel regarding pedophilia earlier this year, announced a series of measures to fight sexual child abuse in the church. "We had to end the guilty silence, which lasted too long, of both the church and wider society and hear the suffering of the victims…we must have the courage to take every measure possible so that the church becomes a safe place," said Crepy.

Frankreich Bischof Luc Crepy (Getty Images/AFP/P. Pavani)

Bishop Luc Crepy (at podium) outlined steps to combat pedophilia in the Catholic Church

Included in the measures passed by the French Catholic Church was a dedicated, secured email address for victims to report abuse. About 100 emails have been received since the email address was set up in April. Some emails detail abuse dating back as far as the 1960's. The church said meetings about pedophilia would be held in Lourdes, as well as Masses around the country.

Abuse in the spotlight

Several church officials were accused of failing to report sexual abuse from priests in recent months. The worst involved Archbishop of Lyon Philippe Barbarin, was accused in June of covering up abuse of boy scouts by Reverand Bernard Preynat in the 1980's. Barbarin remains in his post and has maintained his innocence. Preynat retired in August 2015 after he was relieved of his duties by the diocese. He was charged in January with sexual aggression of minors for a person in a position of authority.

About 600 people attended a Monday night mass in the Lyon parish that used to be run by Preynat. Priest Eric de Nattes gave the service and asked for "forgiveness in the name of the church, that did not listen and that still has so much to listen to, that covered up these crimes in guilty silence."

kbd/jm (AFP, AP)

 

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