Secret of confession: Bishop de Moulins-Beaufort's interview with the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin

The Minister of the Interior, Gerald Darmanin received Tuesday, October 12 Place Beauvau, Bishop Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, president of the Conference of Bishops of France to discuss the secrecy of confession. A "fruitful and long" exchange according to the minister. 

After declaring Tuesday, October 6 in the morning of Franceinfo that the secret of the confession was "Stronger than the laws of the Republic", the president of the French Bishops' Conference (CEF), Bishop Eric de Moulins-Beaufort was invited to meet with Gérald Darmanin, minister in charge of worship.

The interview was held yesterday, Tuesday, October 12, and was described as "fruitful and long" by Gérald Darmanin who spoke on this subject to the National Assembly. During his speech, the Minister of the Interior wanted to "reiterate the courage" of the Catholic Church for having ordered a report on sexual abuse led by an independent commission, "to get the truth about this story."

Returning to the remarks made by the president of the CEF on the secrecy of confession, the minister affirmed to have reminded him, as he "said to each of the cults", "that there is indeed no law which is superior to the laws of the National Assembly and the Senate and that there is no law above those of the Republic ”. A statement that sparked applause in the hemicycle.

"The French Republic respects all religions and […] respects all confessions from the moment they respect the Republic and the laws of the Republic" continued Gérald Darmanin.

The Minister of the Interior then declared that “the secrecy of confession has been for almost two hundred years in our law recognized as professional secrecy in the same way as for doctors or lawyers. However, it suffers from exceptions with regard to crimes committed against children under the age of 15 ”.

Thus, in the context of religious having knowledge of crimes against children under 15, the minister specifies that they have the obligation to bring these facts to justice. He adds that they could not be sanctioned in this context for having broken the secrecy of confession.

The CEF, for its part, published a statement at the end of the meeting which evokes "the clumsy formulation" of Mgr de Moulins-Beaufort on franceinfo.

“The state's task is to organize social life and regulate public order. For us Christians, the faith appeals to the conscience of each one, it calls to seek the good without slackening, which cannot be done without respecting the laws of its country ”specifies the declaration of the Catholic Church which admits that a work "is necessary" to "reconcile the nature of confession with the need to protect children".

The president of the CEF also recalled "the determination of all the bishops and, with them, of all Catholics, to make the protection of children an absolute priority, in close collaboration with the French authorities".

In conclusion, "Bishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort reiterates his shame, his consternation, but also his determination to carry out the necessary reforms so that the Church, in France, deserves the trust of all".

Camille Westphal Perrier

Image Credit: Jo Bouroch /

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