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French churches plan day of prayer for sex abuse victims

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French churches plan day of prayer for sex abuse victims
The president of the French Conference of Bishops, which announced the plan. Photo: AFP
12:50 CEST+02:00
French churches have announced plans for a day of prayer for victims of sex abuse within the Catholic Church.

France's Conference of Bishops made the decision to hold the day of prayer in churches across the country, Le Parisien reported on Friday.

At Lourdes - a major Catholic pilgrimage site - bishops will take part in a morning mass asking for the "forgiveness of sins". In the afternoon there will be talks on the fight against paedophilia, and a prayer for the victims. Some will also observe a 24-hour fast.

As well as the events at Lourdes, priests all over the country have been invited to participate by holding special masses and prayers.

It is the first time such an event has been held in France, and it aims to support those victims who have already come forward, as well as giving others "the courage to speak", according to Michel Dubost, Bishop of Evry.

The plan is a response to a call from Pope Francis last month for a 'worldwide day of prayer' for victims of sexual abuse. The initiative was suggested by a sex abuse survivor.

Sex abuse in the French Church

In April, the Catholic Church in France on Tuesday pledged to shed light on all cases of paedophilia, including "historic cases", following a scandal over an archbishop accused of covering up a priest's crimes, a case with shook the country's large Catholic community.

Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon, admitted to "errors in the management and nomination of certain priests" after a meeting to discuss accusations the church failed to report several child sexual abuse cases in the area.

In August, a French prosecutor dismissed a probe into allegations that Barbarin covered up the sexual abuse of scouts.

Barbarin had been accused of failing to remove a priest from his diocese when he became aware the man had sexually abused young boys 25 years ago.

Preynat was only charged in January after a victim who was allegedly abused in the 1980s realized in 2015 that the priest was still in service.

Several other victims have also come forward.

READ ALSO: Was child abuse in the French church covered up?

Was French church child abuse covered up?
Victims say Archbishop Barbarin was among those who failed to report the priest. Photo: Safin Hamed/ AFP

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