French Evangelicals help churches to deal with sexual abuse


Western Europe


This photograph shows a sign reading 'Let us pray and fast for the victims of sexual abuse in our church in a French church after an abuse scandal came to light'. Photo AFP, Denis Charlet

The Evangelical umbrella organisation CNEF in France is taking the initiative to help Protestant churches deal with sexual abuse in their structures.

A working group has now presented the results of this initiative, CNEF writes on its website. The members of the working group created, first of all, a booklet with guidelines on how to deal with abuse in the church and above all, how to combat the criminal practice. These tips include the necessity of the churches to emphasise the concept of respect in their work.

In addition, churches should implement sufficient checks and balances during the activities they organise so that risky situations can be avoided. In addition, it is important for churches to set up guidelines and rules for dealing with church members, and minors in particular. Also, requiring church leaders to undergo a psychological assessment can be a way to minimalise the risk of abuse in the church, the booklet reads.


In addition, the CNEF set up a Charter of commitment to fight against sexual abuse. By committing themselves to this charter, churches acknowledge that abuse has been happening in their structures and promise that they will do their utmost to prevent and combat it, rejecting abuse as an unbiblical deviation.

Lastly, and maybe most importantly, the working group has set up a listening service for victims of sexual abuse in the church. Its goal is to “offer a listening and assistance platform to victims of sexual abuse, committed within structures, churches, unions or works, members of the CNEF, the organisation writes on its website.

Not only does the service listen to abuse victims, but employees also assist the victims where necessary with pastoral, psychological and legal support. If needed, they will inform the authorities about the abuse as well.

The listening service is to be manned by a coordinator who keeps an overview of the requests and files. In addition, the Stop Abuse team is made up of people specifically trained in listening.



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