A congregation of Catholic sisters admits having experienced a "system of influence"

A congregation of Catholic sisters admits having experienced a system of influence

The Benedictines of the Sacred Heart of Montmartre officially recognized that a "system of influence, with serious and lasting consequences" had existed within their congregation for "several decades", in particular "between 1998 and 2012", indicated Wednesday a manager.

This system is described in an "official declaration" drawn up jointly by "the current sisters and eleven former sisters who have left the institute", a "rather rare step", declared to AFP Sister Marie Jérémie, one of the general councilors of the congregation.

In the statement, published last week on the congregation's website, the sisters, who have worked together on a "re-reading of the institute's past", specify that this system had been "established over several decades by the 'authority of the time'.

Before 1998, "there were already dysfunctions, but things became particularly complex between 1998 and 2012", according to Sister Marie Jérémie.

It was both "spiritual and conscience abuse, abuse of power and authority, separation of the sisters from their family and their spiritual referent, moral and physical violence, threats, systematized lies, slander, climate of fear and manipulation, humiliation, deprivation of freedom, lack of vocational discernment…”, lists the declaration.

"These abuses caused many departures of sisters, in too often painful and difficult conditions, the authority of the time (...) having (...) ostracized them", add the signatories of the text. It is not possible to know the exact number of victims, according to Sister Marie Jérémie, who further clarified that it was a question of "past abuses" and that a "reform of the institute had begun to be set up from 2012".

The Benedictine sisters, who are 95 today in France - including 10 at the Sacré-Coeur de Montmartre, in Paris - and the 11 "outings" are demanding, "in the coming months", the establishment of a "commission independent and multidisciplinary, in order (...) to analyze all the abuses that have taken place as well as to consider the contours of a fair reparation".

In addition, in the statement, the current officials of the institute ask "forgiveness to all those who have been victims of this abuse, to their families and loved ones".

The Editorial Board (with AFP)

Image credit: Shutterstock/ AntoineR

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