The Italian episcopate has just made an unprecedented charge against the methods of the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church (Ciase) appointed by the French prelates to shed light on a painful question. This intervention weakens the report published more than a year ago, which has been questioned several times in France.
The French bishops would have done well were it not for this new stone thrown in their garden: it is a pebble all the more painful as it was sent by their transalpine colleagues.
On November 19, 2022, taking advantage of a symposium entitled “On the side of the victims,” organized by the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome, Italy, the President of the National Commission of the Italian Episcopate responsible for the protection of minors, was very critical of the method chosen by the French prelates to take stock of the delicate question of abuses committed by clerics in their country.
“We are not going to create a single national commission composed of members who know nothing about the life of the Church, whose presumed objectivity would reside in the sole fact that they are neither bishops, nor priests, nor faithful,” commented Msgr. Lorenzo Ghizzoni, a bit annoyed, referring to the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church (Ciase) whose report is far from unanimous within the Church in France.
For Msgr. Ghizzoni – who occupies the archiepiscopal see of Ravenna – the Ciase method “has caused damage” and “must not be imitated” in Italy.
And the prelate clarified that in the question of possible abuses of clerics in Italy, “we will examine the real data and try to find means of prevention, because what interests us is not to set priests in the pillory, but to prevent abuse.”
And if it were necessary to be more clear, Bishop Ghizzoni warns by explicitly targeting the Sauvé Commission: “We will not make projections of data or sampling, as other ecclesial realities have done, with figures that attract only those who want to sow discord.”
This is the first time that such a severe charge has been leveled against the “Sauvé Report” by a foreign episcopate. In France, a year ago already, in November 2021, eight members of the Catholic Academy of France had undertaken a reasoned criticism against certain aspects of the work carried out by Ciase, denying any “systemic” value to the alleged abuses, and creating unease within the governing bodies of the French Conference of Bishops (Cef).