Weekly column: We must have the courage to fight sexual abuse


Christian Life

Marc Derœux, CNE.news

Abuse of children is widespread evil. Photo AFP, Raul Arboleda

Recently, the news has been full of reports about sexual abuse. I have been very active on that topic for the last couple of years. Together with some other people, I wrote a small book on fighting against it. And soon, I will be starting a listening service for victims.

Many abuse cases in the news are linked to authorities in the political field, the media, the sports world and businesses, and religious instances. This sad reality is, unfortunately, not new.

Christian communities are not excepted from the controversy. Media campaigns have raised awareness, encouraging structures to denounce practices contrary to the values these institutions wish to transmit and act accordingly.

Marc Derœux (1965) is a French pastor, connected to the Baptist Federation (FEEBF).

Photo Marc Derœux

At the moment, he serves as the director of the language school Center des Cèdres in Massy (near Paris).

Before, he served as a minister in Lille, Lyon and Valence. He is involved in the National Council of Evangelicals in France (CNEF).

Derœux is married to the schoolteacher Catherine, with whom he has three children.

Rightly considered places where each person is welcomed with respect and kindness, Christian communities are far from being perfectly exemplary. We must have the courage to denounce all abuses of power and sexual weaknesses that are also lamented in the environments mentioned above. The abuse of power is a serious deviation from the function of leadership, especially from the one the Bible teaches.

Christians have to repent

As believers in the Lord of grace and truth, we cannot but repent of such behaviour. We must fight with determination against this scourge that dishonours the testimony we want to give of the God of life.

It is our personal and communal duty to do everything in our power to ensure that our churches remain welcoming and safe places. Many church unions and federative structures, such as the "Conseil national des évangéliques de France" (CNEF), have begun to put in place measures to prevent and act against abusive behaviour by leaders.

Personally, I see an important role for this for the CNEF. As vice-president of that organisation, I also said that at a special event about this delicate topic organised by the "National Federation of Protestant Family Associations" (FN-AFP).

Children's abuse is a matter of justice as well. Photo EPA, Guido Kirchner

Beginning in 2019, the CNEF commissioned a group of qualified persons under my responsibility to write a booklet entitled "Good Practices to Fight Abuse.". We made an English version of this as well. This brochure aims to make pastors, elders, deacons, children and youth leaders aware of the importance of being exemplary in their service in the name of Christ.

Important to act responsibly

Abuse is not only a moral question but also one of justice. It is, therefore, essential to know the legislative levers to prevent and act responsibly in case of abuse. For if the abuse of power is a matter for the State, it is the institutions' responsibility to avoid and denounce any control by religious leaders under the guise of spiritual guidance.

Consistently, the CNEF members adopted a charter of commitment to fighting against abuse in the Church. This document affirms the dignity and value of every human being and reminds us that no one has the right to abuse his or her power to instrumentalise, damage or destroy another person through violence, whether it be physical, psychological or spiritual abuse.

Listening service

As an extension of this project, I have been entrusted with setting up a so-called listening service for abuse victims, especially sexual abuse. Independent of any church institution, this listening structure will soon be set up to liberate the victims' words and accompany them in their restoration journey.

More and more, preventive measures are proposed to create awareness among people and inform them of their rights. Biblical and theological institutes are increasingly integrating modules into their training programs to prepare their students for their spiritual and legal responsibilities and accompany them in their ministry's exercise.

May God's beautiful initiatives help everyone be better equipped to face the suffering of victims to restore their dignity, change mentalities, and avoid abusive behaviour and recidivism.



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