Sexual violence in the congregation of Saint-Jean: a report overwhelms its founder

Sexual violence in the congregation of Saint-Jean: a report overwhelms its founder

A report published Monday evening on sexual assault within the religious community of the Brothers of Saint-Jean underlines the central role played by its founder, Father Marie-Dominique Philippe, a figure of Catholicism, and denounces the "systemic dimension" of the assaults. .

The Saint John family has three religious institutes: the Brothers of Saint John (422 members today, founded in 1975), the Contemplative Sisters of Saint John (53 members, founded in 1982) and the Apostolic Sisters of Saint John. Jean (175 members, founded in 1984).

Following the revelation of cases of sexual violence - some of which were judged - within the "little greys" (from the name of the habit worn by the Brothers), the Saint-Jean family asked a multidisciplinary commission to work on the origin of these "abuses", according to the term used by the congregation. The commission published its 800-page report on Monday evening, after three years of work.

It recounts, from archives and testimonies, "the direct and indirect central role" of its founder, Father Marie-Dominique Philippe. Marie-Dominique Philippe (died in 2006) and her brother Thomas Philippe (died in 1993) had developed delusional mystical-sexual theories.

"This role was direct (...) because of his own abuses and because he approved situations of abuse or closed his eyes", detail the authors (historians, theologians, etc.) of the report.

"He had an indirect role through the intellectual and spiritual formation he gave, because it favored in a certain number of brothers and sisters equivocal relationships, spiritual and sexual abuse".

According to them, "this central place of Father Marie-Dominique Philippe (...) is at the origin of the systemic dimension of the abuses that took place in the Saint-Jean family".

Since 1975, when the community was founded, "72 brothers have committed sexual abuse and 167 victims of brothers have been counted," the report said. "The majority of the acts were committed by brother priests in the context of spiritual accompaniment of adult women", add the authors of the report, who specify that the term "abuse" covers "acts of a diverse nature, ranging from the words of solicitation of rape".

The report summarizes:

"The Saint-Jean family was contaminated from its origin by a kind of + virus +, (...) harmful (...), the most serious effect of which is the spread of sexual abuse accompanied by justifications"

Editorial staff with AFP

Image credit: Shuttestock / Billion Pics

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