Bishop resigns over ‘attitudes’ towards young people
Church authorities on Thursday said a French bishop has resigned at the request of the Vatican after concerns were raised about his behaviour towards young people.
The Vatican confirmed that Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of the bishop of Aire and Dax, Herve Gaschignard.
A spokesman for Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, the archbishop of Bordeaux, said that the cardinal had been approached last month by two people involved with young people in Gaschignard’s diocese.
The two had told him of concerns that the bishop’s “words and attitudes” had caused distress to a number of young people.
Both Gaschignard himself and Ricard had contacted prosecutors, but the cardinal’s office was not aware of any legal complaint against the bishop, a statement from his spokesman said.
French Catholic newspaper La Croix, citing unnamed sources, reported that one family in Gaschignard’s diocese had already made a complaint directly to the Vatican in January.
That triggered an initial investigation by Ricard, who met the family and heard nothing suggesting a legal offence had been committed, but nevertheless forwarded their account to Rome.
La Croix quoted an unnamed person close to the church’s handling of the case as saying that there was at this point “no suggestion whatsoever of abuse or sexual acts.”
Instead, the allegations were of “inappropriate behaviour and remarks, which can still be hurtful to young adolescents.”
The Conference of French Bishops said they were offering their prayers to “all those affected by this incident, and in particular those who have been hurt by it.”
Since the 1990s the Catholic Church has been hit by repeated scandals in a number of countries over sexual abuse by priests. In many cases the church was accused of covering up such offences.
Like his predecessor Benedict XVI, Francis has pledged “zero tolerance” for sexual abuse cases in the church.
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