SSPX Cone of Silence

News: World News Print Friendly and PDF
by Christine Niles  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  May 11, 2020   

Refusing to answer questions

You are not signed in as a Premium user; we rely on Premium users to support our news reporting. Sign in or Sign up today!

Image

Fr. Frédéric Abbet, SSPX, convicted and sentenced 

to prison for abusing boys at the SSPX academy in Brussels

The Society of St. Pius X is refusing to answer questions about its complicity in sex abuse. 

In a statement issued two weeks ago (but since taken down), the SSPX promised "transparency" in the face of documented cases of abuse and cover-up reported in Church Militant's April 22 Spotlight investigation.

Contrary to this promise, the SSPX has offered only silence in the face of multiple media queries.

On April 30, Church Militant wrote to Bp. Bernard Fellay, superior general of the SSPX for 24 years (1994–2018), who presided over a number of the abuse cases highlighted in our exposé.

Church Militant asked him questions specifically regarding the case of SSPX priest Fr. Frédéric Abbet, a convicted pedophile sentenced by a Belgian court to five years in prison for abusing boys at an SSPX academy in Brussels. 

Image

Letter from Fr. Christian Thouvenot, secretary general, 

detailing 2006 restrictions on Fr. Frédéric Abbet

Abbet never would have been able to abuse boys in Brussels had Fellay not assigned him to live under the same roof as boys at L'École de Notre Dame — in spite of Fellay's knowledge of prior abuse allegations in Valais, Switzerland.

In fact, an SSPX tribunal in 2006 imposed a 10-year ban on Abbet from being around children unsupervised — a ban almost immediately violated by Fellay, who announced Abbet's transfer to the Brussels priory of Christ the King — under the same roof as the boys dorms — only two months after this ban was issued.

Church Militant obtained a copy of the letter detailing Abbet's restrictions in 2006, which reads in part:

Nevertheless, by prudence and given that a suspicion of crime remains, the judge felt it necessary to restrict the future ministry of Fr. Frédéric Abbet with the following measures, issued by decree on June 6, 2006 and communicated to the interested party on July 27, 2006.

Among the restrictions was a 10-year ban on internet usage — which Fellay lifted — as well as a 10-year ban on being around children unsupervised — which Fellay also violated within two months.

Fellay has stayed at the same priory multiple times, so he was well aware that any priest there has direct and easy access to the boys dorms, day or night. It would have been an impossible task to supervise his movements.

The second page of the letter (shown below) notes that Fellay — without explanation — lifted the ban on Abbet's use of the internet.

It also says of the restrictions: "These measures were communicated to the interested party as well as to his superiors, Fr. [Jurgen] Wegner [former district superior of the BeNeLux region] then [Fr. Benoît] Wailliez. I myself sent on Jan. 21, 2009 to Fr. Benoît Wailliez, his superior, the written list of these measures, and I had the occasion of telling them to him on July 1, 2010."

Image

Page 2 of the letter from Secretary General Fr. Christian Thouvenot making clear

the restrictions on Fr. Abbet were communicated to Fr. Jurgen Wegner and Fr. Benoit Wailliez

In spite of knowing about the restrictions and about Abbet's track record in Switzerland, neither Wegner nor Wailliez supervised Abbet. As the victim's family told Church Militant, both men should have been troubled to know that Abbet was being transferred to their priory. They should have voiced their concerns and refused the assignment, for the safety and welfare of the children in their charge. Neither did so, nor did they exercise adequate supervision over Abbet (an impossible task, as already noted).

Image

Fr. Jurgen Wegner, former district superior

of BeNeLux region, now district superior in US

Church Militant asked Fellay several pointed questions, including:

  • Why did you ignore the ban imposed on Fr. Frédéric Abbet not to be around children for 10 years, and immediately assign him to the Brussels priory, where he would live under the same roof as boys — whom he went on to abuse?
  • Do you take responsibility for your part in endangering children in this matter?
  • Have you ever issued an apology to the victims and their families devastated by the abuse Abbet perpetrated on them?
  • Did you discipline either Fr. [Jurgen] Wegner for failure to supervise Fr. Abbet, as you ordered him to do, or Fr. [Benoît Wailliez] for placing a man he suspected of being a sexual predator in charge of the boys' dorm, as well as withholding incriminating evidence against Fr. Abbet for six years?
  • Where is Fr. Abbet now? 

Fellay never responded. 

Ten days later, Church Militant sent a follow-up email asking further questions:

Bishop Fellay,

It is now 10 days since I've written you and still have yet to receive a response. Is this the sort of "transparency" the public can expect from the SSPX?

Image

Fr. Benoît Wailliez, former prior of Brussels chapel

I've learned from speaking with the victims' families that Fr. Abbet roams free in Switzerland and appears never to have served his time in prison.

I understand the SSPX has since expelled Fr. Abbet from the Society.

Will the Society help the [victim's] family locate the current whereabouts of Fr. Abbet? As you are in Switzerland and have many connections, surely you can easily track him down and perform this act of aid to the victims.

Critics say you are above all most culpable in the abuse of these young victims, because it is you who violated the ban by placing Fr. Abbet in a priory with direct access to boys, knowing very well it would be impossible to supervise his every move.

Are you willing to admit responsibility, issue a public apology to the victims and resign for what some say is your criminal negligence?

Does it trouble your conscience that boys were harmed by Fr. Philippe Peignot, whose ban you also lifted and whom you allowed to be around boys and lead scout camps?

Are you willing to admit responsibility, issue a public apology to the victims and resign for what some say is your criminal negligence?

Why did you transfer Fr. Pierre Duverger to the United States after his sex scandal in France involving another woman?

Why did you fail to notify the police as soon as you learned of the rapes committed by Fr. Christophe Roisnel? Failure to report is a violation of French law, as you well know.

Will the SSPX publish a list of all credibly accused clergy, current or past, in an act of transparency?

We know of many other priests involved in sex scandals whom you transferred to another assignment. Do you think it's correct to be transferring and reassigning accused sexual predators to new locations, where they often go on to abuse again? Is this the accepted modus operandi of the SSPX? 

Church Militant awaits answers to these questions.

See our complete SSPX coverage

 

Have a news tip? Submit news to our tip line.


We rely on you to support our news reporting. Please donate today.
By commenting on ChurchMilitant.com you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our comment posting guidelines