Sexual abuse: Victims of Father Ribes denounce the "failures" of the Church and demand "compassion"

A group of victims of Father Ribes, a painter priest who died in 1994 accused of sexual assault on children during the 1970s and 80s, denounced on Friday the "failures" of the Church when it came to making financial or psychological, calling for "compassion".

Sometimes nicknamed “the Picasso of churches”, for his talents as a painter, Louis Ribes practiced in the three dioceses of Lyon, Saint-Etienne and Vienne. His sexual assaults, revealed in January by Marianne, had been confirmed by these three institutions.

But, “while the Church invests a lot in its communication to keep a good image”, “what is it waiting for to repair us? We risk waiting a long time, perhaps there will even be suicides…”, launched Luc Gemet, 58, one of the leaders of this collective, during a press conference in Lyon.

The collective points in particular to the complexity of the procedures for obtaining compensation or the rapid care of victims requiring certain care, and more generally a lack of “compassion” for the latter.

Regarding financial reparations, the lawyer requested by the victims, Me Jean Sannier, denounced the "tinkering" of the two authorities in charge - the Recognition and Reparation Commission (CRR) and the Independent National Authority for Recognition and Reparation (INIIR ) – in fixing the uprights. According to him, they would seek “exclusively to protect the finances of the Church”. The Church "has the means, it can and must pay", claimed Mr. Gemet.

This collective claims to represent 25 victims, "but there are many more, perhaps 300", while 49 have now officially come forward to the Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church (Ciase).

"We must denounce the failures of the church institution to combat sexual abuse and crimes committed," added Annick Moulin, another member of the collective.

In support of their approach, a series of ten "claims", including "compensation commensurate with the crimes committed", recognition by the Church of their "systemic nature", "the imprescriptibility of crimes against minors » or the « deregistration of the works of Father Ribes as historical monuments ».

Several of its frescoes and stained glass adorned churches in the region, which the diocese had discreetly removed. He also had a vast collection of photos and sketches of naked children, like those unveiled Friday by Mr. Gemet, "received from the family of Father Ribes" after the article in Marianne.

Also after the publication in Marianne, Mr. Gemet received a letter from a former seminarian who worked with Father Ribes in 1976, read on Friday. He says he is "stunned" to have found photos of naked children and warned his superiors, in vain.

The editorial staff (with AFP)

Image credit: THOMAS COEX / POOL/ AFP

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