Some 600 people gathered Monday evening near Lyon, in the parish where he officiated father Bernard Preynat, who is suspected of having abused about 70 young scouts from 1972 to 1991, in order to pay tribute to the victims of sexual abuse.
A day of “prayer and penance” initiated by Pope Francis. The faithful of the church of Saint-Luc in Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon, an upscale suburb of the western lyonnais, responded well to the call of the catholic bishops ‘ Conference of France (CEF) of October 14 for a “day of prayer and penance” the principle of which had been announced months before by the Pope Francis.
Rather old, the parishioners have silently taken place in this small church, simple and without charm, built in the early 60′s. Celebrated by father Eric Mats, the mass lasted almost an hour and a half. Addressing the members of the association “free speech”, composed of former boy scouts of St. Luke the victims of Bernard Preynat and who has revealed his abuse in early 2016, the current priest of the parish was surprised by the support by his homily.
apology on behalf of the Church. “I have come to ask you for forgiveness in my name, in the name of all parishioners, on behalf of my church, who has not heard, and which was still so hard to listen to, which was covered with a silence, guilty of these crimes and that is so difficult to get out of this silence that has left victims in their solitude,” said the father of the Mats. On several occasions, he also apologized for not having formally invited the members of the “free Speech” to attend mass. “I have not been able to do it for a kind of blockage inside that was to say : ‘how do I invite people who have lived in those places they have lived’” explain t-he later in front of the press.
Two letters from parents of former victims of Bernard Preynat – portrayed in the past as a “predator”, a “vile who preached the good and which was evil” – but also that of a woman who suffered a rape in the 70s by a priest were also read to the audience.
A too long silence guilty”. “The important thing is to be together this evening. It is already a big step,” responded Annick, 40 years old, after the mass. Marie-Thérèse, age 54, has found the celebration as “great”. But, it was so ashamed,” she added, referring to the case Preynat. “We really thought that it was gossip,” added Françoise, 80 years old, “satisfied that the story is out”. Originally planned, the 70 candles, which were to symbolize the 70 victims of the father Preynat, have ultimately not been turned on at the request of “free Speech”.
Monday, the bishops of France gathered in Lourdes, solemnly asked for forgiveness for the “too long silence guilty” of the Church in the face of such sexual abuse.