Training, code of ethics for pastors, lifting of professional secrecy: the Protestant Federation of France (FPF) issues a dozen recommendations to prevent sexual and spiritual violence in Protestantism, in a report made public on Saturday.
“We are all affected by the problem”writes the president of the FPF, Christian Krieger, in this document sent to the press and presented on the occasion of its general assembly which is held on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 January.
No overall statistics
The federation indicates that it does not have “global statistical data on the number of victims of sexual violence committed by pastors and lay people within churches, institutions, works and movements” Protestants (including Evangelicals), even if “the churches, unions or federations of protestant churches (…) each have specific cases”.
The document, which salutes the work of the Sauvé Commission published in the fall of 2021 on pedocrime in the Catholic Church, is intended as a means of “raise awareness among all actors in the Protestant world of the reality and seriousness of sexual and spiritual violence”as well as on the “measures to be taken” and “procedures to be put in place”.
It lists ten recommendations. One plans to make available to FPF officials “an intervention protocol in the event of suspicion of inappropriate behavior on the part of one of their members”. Another recommends “a code of ethics for pastors and leaders”.
Support victims in their legal proceedings
Another recommendation: “Pastors, legally bound by professional secrecy, are encouraged (…) to accompany the victims in their legal proceedings and to use in good conscience the option provided by law to lift this secrecy”.
Others are common sense measures: “limit situations where a child is alone in the presence of an adult” or avoid “reintegrate the aggressor in the community where he committed the crime, after having served his sentence, even if he wishes”.
The FPF also indicates that “Any victim of violence must be listened to in confidence” and “pastoral accompaniment will focus on listening, supporting and accompanying the victim in a process of spiritual restoration”.
The evangelical churches already mobilized
For its part, the National Council of Evangelicals of France (Cnef), which claims under its wing more than 70% of Evangelical Churches, has already adopted a charter of commitment and published a booklet of good practices to better prevent and fight against sexual violence within its ranks. On September 20, 2022, it also launched a listening service for victims and witnesses available at the Internet address www.stop-abus.fr, similar to what the Catholic Church had set up in 2016.
“The indirect and partial information that reaches me unfortunately leads me to think that, in our evangelical churches, there are also pastors and leaders who are not free from serious faults”, estimated in December 2018 Étienne Lhermenault, its president then.