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France: French bishops promote spiritual abuse documentary to “inform about possible risks” and avoid “running into manipulators”

A documentary on spiritual abuse will be presented at the French Bishops’ Conference (CEF) in Paris on Wednesday, 12 June. A 56-minute journey accompanied by those – especially in congregations and new religious communities – who have suffered this type of abuse. A reportage to understand a phenomenon the Church has only recently talked about, particularly “to inform and educate the general public about the possible dangers of the spiritual quest”. The Documentary – co-produced by the Catholic television network KTO and made by Jean-Claude and Anne Duret – will be presented by Mgr. Alain Planet, bishop of Carcassonne and Narbonne, in charge of the “Unit for sectarian drifts in the Catholic community”, and by two members of the same body, Sister Marie-Chantal Sorlin and Father Marc Botzung. “Today the thirst for the absolute is strong in a western world that has lost the foundations of faith”, the presentation of the Documentary reads. “Because of this, some may run into manipulators, or even fall prey to narcissists who turn them away from the search of God to their own advantage. Real systems of influence are put in place. The mechanism of mental empowerment leads to many abuses, including spiritual abuse, and can cause serious psychological damage”. The documentary features, among others, the testimonies of a former nun of the Saint-Jean Community, Marie Laure Janssen; of Xavier Léger, former member of the Legionaries of Christ; and others who preferred to remain anonymous. There are also contributions by psychiatrists and people in charge of religious communities in Europe (Benedictines, Jesuits, Dominicans), which – a statement from the CEF reads – is a sign that “there is a treasure of wisdom in the monasteries where those who dedicate their lives to the search for God have clearly identified the dangers of this quest. The experience they share with us today is indispensable to our discernment, whether we are believers or not”.

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