Victims of a French pedophile priest are asking the Vatican to push their abuser’s archdiocese to pay them compensation.

Driving the news

About 15 of the victims of sex offender and former Father Bernard Preynat wrote in July to the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in the Vatican, the Church’s ‘Supreme Court’, as The Tablet reports.

Their complaint is that the Archdiocese of Lyon enabled the abuse of Preynat, since it kept the predator priest in ministry until 2015 despite reports of him abusing in the 70s and 80s.


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“Successive bishops (since the early 1980s) knew that Bernard Preynat was a criminal pedophile and they chose to keep him in contact with children, knowingly, without any measure of control”, one victim denounced to Rome.

“The Lyon archdiocese must bear the responsibility for these facts”, the victim said.

The survivors of Preynat’s abuse are also calling for Bruno Gonçalves to step aside from his position as president of the Lyon archdiocesan court.

That was the court that defrocked Preynat in July this year and would handle compensation claims against him.

Gonçalves was appointed to his post by Lyon Archbishop Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, who was convicted in March by a civil court for not reporting Preynat’s abuse to the police.

“I question [Gonçalves’] level of neutrality,” one victim wrote to the Vatican.

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Why it matters

More than twenty of Preynat’s alleged victims have filed for damages of over 10,000 euros each.

But Preynat says he hasn’t got the money to fund the claims.

The archdiocese of Lyon has also so far refused to suggest where the money could come from.

For the record

In the meantime, a film of the story of some of Preynat’s victims – By the Grace of God – is being hailed as the French Spotlight, the 2015 Oscar-winning movie on the clergy sex abuse scandal in the Boston archdiocese, in the US.

“The two films are complementary”, Francois Ozon, director of By the Grace of God, told CNS.

“In Spotlight, the story is told from the point of view of the journalists. In my film, it’s from the point of view of the survivors”.

“I wanted to make a film about male fragility, to make a film to evoke expressions by the men”, Ozon explained to CNS.

“In cinema, men are all action, and only women are feeling. Men can cry, too. I was looking for a subject, I looked at what happened in Lyon, and I decided to tell the story at this moment”.

“Many Catholics came to watch the film” when it premiered in France in February, the director said, adding that the movie sold a million tickets in its first few days in cinemas.

“Many of them are upset about all the story of Preynat in the Church. They want to turn the page”, Ozon reflected.

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