French church abuse victims get reparations, and recognition

by | Mar 10, 2023 | Religion

PARIS (AP) — “I came back to life.”Like other victims of child abuse by priests, 52-year-old Stéphane said getting an official recognition from France’s Catholic Church of what happened is helping him get better, at last.
Stéphane is among 201 victims granted financial or other reparations from the church so far under a process launched last year by an independent French body leading a nationwide effort to address decades of long-hidden, widespread abuse. Hundreds of other people are awaiting review of their cases.
Reparations also may include non-financial support. Requests have included help for victims to write down their stories, organizing meetings with local church representatives, or installing a plaque in memory of victims. The head of the Independent National Authority for Recognition and Reparation, or INIRR, is also supporting a demand to change the name of a plaza named after an archbishop who actively covered up sexual abuse.
Stéphane said he was raped by a priest when he was 13. Three years later, he tried to denounce his abuser but the church “closed the door” and his mother did not believe him, he said.
For years, he remained silent, with a major trauma that affected his whole life. “I felt dead,” he said.
Stéphane — the Associated Press does not usually fully identify victims of sexual abuse — started speaking again in 2019, when he was able to meet with an …

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