For some, justice comes too late. However, there are several cases that have not been prescribed and by which the cure Bernard Preynat responds from this Tuesday before a court for abuse against scores of children who committed at least during the seventies and eighties, when he was leading a scout group catholic of Lyon. Beyond the accusations of pedophilia, which the defendant has already recognized, the case is emblematic in that it has demonstrated all the shortcomings of the French catholic Church around this scourge: the implied consent to know of the case and not to act —but said he stopped abusing children in the nineties, Preynat continued to practice for decades in contact with minors— and the silence that prevailed in the matter. A question that, ultimately, has cost the French Church the largest conviction to date to a high position in the hierarchy gala, the once-powerful archbishop of Lyon, Philippe Barbarin, who ended up resigning also at your expense.
Although “is not a process against the Church is, perhaps, the process at a time and silence,” said the lawyer Preynat, Frédéric Doyez, on the eve of the trial, which should have begun on Monday but that was postponed by the strike of lawyers who have joined the protests against the reform of the pension system of the Government of Emmanuel Macron.
“it Was a time in which, through the silence, it was believed that they did certain things. If 30 years ago the parents had called at the doors of the court instead of to the archbishop, would have celebrated a process, and Bernard Preynat would have been judged on their testimonies and their recognition of the facts”, said in an interview with the radio station France Info.
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This is one of the keys to this case: Preynat, who is now 74 years old, never hid its abuses, which he confessed at the beginning of the nineties with their leaders. But these, in time to report to the justice —in France it is an offence not to notify the authorities of the commission of an abuse against a minor of 15 years of which he has knowledge— decided to mute the case, limiting itself to send the priest to another parish, instead of removed completely for his work, which made him be in permanent contact with minors.
it was Not until in 2015 one of his victims, Alexandre Hezez, learned by chance that the priest who had abused him in the years eighty, and that he believed section of their work was still, after two decades, giving mass and in contact with minors. The complaint, unattended by the then-archbishop of Lyon, Philippe Barbarin, and ended up joining many more victims, broke the case that would end up being one of the harsher judgments against the entire hierarchy of the French Church, and which resulted in the conviction, in march last year, against cardinal Barbarin to six months in prison with exemption of penalty. Although the high religious, whose name was in his time as a papabile, has appealed the judgment, on which the court of Appeal of Lyon should be pronounced on 30 January, this has already led to his resignation as archbishop of the prominent diocese in the country. Preynat for his part was reduced to the lay state the past summer, at the end of a canonical trial that decreed their expulsion from the clerical state, the maximum penalty provided for in canon law.
The case Preynat also caused the creation of the association Parole Liberée (Word Released), formed by former victims of the priest when he was chaplain of the scout group catholic Lyon Saint-Luc. This association, depicted in the film Thank God François Ozon is responsible, in large part, that the topic of paedophilia in religious has become a topic of national debate in France and within the French Church, which has tasked an independent commission with a report on the magnitude of the problem since the 1950s. Thousands of people have already made contact with the commission, which shall submit its report in 2021.
In the trial that begins now, the former priest faces a penalty of up to ten years in prison for the claims are not prescribed out of ten of the children who he abused and who have become in charge of civil. The plaintiffs, who were between seven and 15 years old at the time suffered abuse, accuse Preynat of touching, kissing on the mouth and fondling forced, especially in her genitals. Before it was suspended by the strike, Preynat said Monday that you want a trial “as quickly as possible” by a few facts which, he recalled, has already recognized. “I have heard the sufferings of which I am guilty,” he said before the court that shall judge him in the next few days.Updated Date: 14 January 2020, 13:00