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French bishops acknowledge and decry 'spiritual abuse' in some ecclesial communities

November 15, 2013

The president of the French bishops’ conference has issued a public response to calls for recognition of the “human damage” caused by ecclesial movements that were guilty of abusive practices.

The statement by Bishop Georges Pontier on behalf of the French hierarchy addressed charges of “spiritual abuse” as well as sexual abuse. Critics of the several new ecclesiastical communities had complained of the “destruction of personalities” by cult-like practices. The complaints had centered on groups such as the Legion of Christ, the Beatitudes community, and the Community of St. John—all of which had seen formal charges of misconduct lodged against their founders.

In his statement Bishop Pontier warned against the dangers of generalization, but acknowledged difficulties with some groups, involving the manipulation of individual consciences. He said that the French bishops oppose such practices, remarking: ”The Gospel of Christ, which we seek to serve, is a school of spiritual freedom.”


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