Report Reveals Mega Sexual Violence in St. John Order

News: World News
by Jules Gomes  •  •  June 29, 2023   

Priests used rogue theology to rape and serially abuse nuns, lay women

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WARNING: This story contains graphic accounts of sexual abuse and exploitation.

FLEY, France ( - A chilling report is revealing how 72 priests and 6 nuns from the Community of St. John used rogue theology to sexually abuse 30 nuns, 69 laywomen, 29 minors, 17 brothers and 10 boys under 15 years old.  

Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe with nuns (top), brothers (below)

The report titled Understanding and Healing: Origins and Analysis of Abuse in the St. John Family admits the order's founder, Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe, played a "central role" in the "systemic" abuse and notes that the priests raped 20 women, including multiple nuns.

Prioress Predator 

Additionally, it details how Mother Alix Parmentier, a co-founder of the religious community's women's wing, sexually assaulted others after experiencing sexual abuse herself at the hands of former Dominican Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe, who founded the Brothers of St. John in 1975.

The dossier warns that "the St. John family has been contaminated from its origin by a kind of virus," which involved the use of theological "justifications" in an "incestuous" community leading to "the spread of sexual abuse." 

Most of the 167 victims of sexual predation belonging to the order were women, and the abusive priests represent 13.33% of the 390 priests and 8.26% of the 871 professed brothers in the congregation. The abuses took place mainly in the formation houses of Rimont and St. Jodart during confession, spiritual direction or personal conversation.

The 824-page dossier published on Monday records that the abuses were perpetrated over 35 years (from 1975 to 2013) and ranged from forced kissing, sexual touching on or under clothes, masturbation, oral sex and outright rape. Father Marie-Dominique Philippe was responsible for over 20 sexual assaults.

I entered her room, and we ended up naked on the bed.

Parmentier, who also played the role of "facilitator," and organized meetings of the victims with Fr. Philippe "knowing what would happen there," the report states, noting that the first prioress both "committed abuses and facilitated abuses of sisters."

We were housed in adjoining rooms," reports a former male novice. "I entered her room, and we ended up naked on the bed without going any further than hugging, caressing and kissing (for her, if there was no penetration, we remained chaste)."


Abusive Founder

Marie-Dominique Philippe was aware of these relationships, which were even blessed on one occasion, the report adds. An article published in the order's magazine explained that the relationship between the priest and prioress was analogous to the Holy Trinity.

"The teaching of Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe was judged by some people as 'prophetic', implying a renewal of Catholic doctrine on chastity in religious life and on male/female relations in general," the report emphasized.

The friend can use his friend as he pleases; he can ask her anything.

The founder of the community, revered by many of his disciples as a "saint," sanctioned a "third way" of relationships called "loving friendship," which involved a sexual dimension between men and women religious "alongside marriage or consecrated celibacy." 

The sexual liaisons of Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe were justified as "the king's secret," which his victims should not talk about because one should not "throw the pearls to the swine."

Michèle-France Pesneau

Modus Operandi

His modus operandi involved beginning with sacramental confession or spiritual accompaniment, which would lead to hugging, kissing on the cheek and then the lips. 

The priest would then lure his victims into engaging in gestures of "tenderness" like oral sex or masturbation, which he described as "pure" because they did not involve penetration; he said that was reserved only for married couples.  

"He explained to me that the parts of our body that we hide the most carefully will be, in Heaven, the most glorified, recollects Michèle-France Pesneau, who was 30 years old at the time of the abuse. 

"After telling me that, he began to undress. No doubt, he thought that he was already in Heaven. He asked me to do the same. He laid me on the bed; he lay on top of me," she recalls, testifying that the priest abused her several times a month for 15 years. 

He knew he could do absolutely anything he wanted.

"He asked me to wait for him in the chapel. He said to me, 'Come, we are going to pray together'. That was the coded expression, 'pray together,'" she notes. "There was never any penis-vagina penetration. But there were fellatios. It was with the finger sometimes. He knew he could do absolutely anything he wanted."

Rogue Theology

The priest would justify his abuse by telling her, "Your mouth I kiss with my heart. I love you in the heart of Jesus. You don't have to worry; I take everything, but I don't keep anything: Everything is for Him."

"The friend can use his friend as he pleases; he can ask her anything," Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe would tell his victims. 

Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe with Pope John Paul II

A nun reports that a priest would justify his repeated sexual assaults by saying, "When two contemplative souls are united in a bond of friendship, they experience the greatest love that can be experienced on earth."

"As long as there is no penetration, the spirit of virginity remains. Have no fear. The Father [Marie-Dominique Philippe] is aware."

The Brothers of St. John spent three years producing the detailed historical, doctrinal, theological and psychological report. 

The community today numbers approximately 500 brothers and 300 sisters living in 50 priories spread over more than 30 countries on five continents. 

Spiderweb of Abusers

In January, Pope Francis laicized the former prior of the Brothers of St. John, Fr. Benoît-Emmanuel Peltereau-Villeneuve, for sexually abusing several nuns and other adult women, Church Militant reported.

According to the report, a "spiderweb" of relationships was formed between predator priests that involved Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe and his brother, Fr. Thomas Philippe, who also serially abused nuns and lay women.

Significantly, Fr. Thomas Philippe shared sexual partners and "mystical" sexual practices with Jean Vanier, as an internal L'Arche 2020 report confirmed.

Vanier, an influential advocate for celibacy, colluded with his mentor, Fr. Thomas Philippe, to manipulate women with religious vocations, including nuns, into sexual relationships using "incestuous representations of relationships between Jesus and Mary."

Compiled over the span of two years by six French scholars, the L'Arche report explained how Vanier and Fr. Philippe interpreted celibacy as "not of the order of marital, exclusive love" but "as 'supernatural' by essence," therefore implying "a multiplicity of partners."

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