A French religious from the Catholic Brothers of Saint John community, Benoît-Emmanuel Peltereau-Villeneuve, who had been the target of allegations of “serious sexual assaults”, was dismissed from the clerical state by Pope Francis.
“Pope Francis has decided to dismiss Benoît Peltereau-Villeneuve from the clerical state without the possibility of appeal or lodging of appeal,” write the Brothers of Saint John in a statement.
The Brothers of Saint John “take note of this decision which was expected and which came to the end of years of procedures, long and painful for the people concerned“, they add.
The CDF had already handed down this sentence in 2011, but the religious appealed the decisionaccording to the institute.
The alleged facts, which date back “to the 1990s” in the case of the older victims, “are numerous and serious”, in particular “in the context of the spiritual accompaniment of the Sisters of Saint John and adult women”, says the institute.
Peltereau-Villeneuve was “Prior in Geneva for 12 years between 1988 and 2008 and organizer of important events”, such as the Agapé Festival, an international festival of music and sacred art, according to the same source.
In early 2008, “following complaints”, the bishop of Geneva dismissed Peltereau-Villeneuve from his ministry and lodged a complaint with the Swiss court, which then closed the case due to statute of limitations.
According to the institute, the religious also sued the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against Swiss justice and, in 2014, the ECHR condemned Switzerland for violating the presumption of innocence.
“He also filed a complaint against a brother, a sister and several lay people, accusing them of having slandered him”, advances the institute.
The Brothers of Saint John have around 450 apostolic religious present on five continents.
In the past, several brothers in the community, who are called “little grays” because of the color of their clothing, were tried for sexual violence.
In 2015, the institute created a commission “SOS-abuse”responsible for “dealing with cases of sexual abuse for which siblings are guilty or in which they are implicated”.
In 2019, this commission accounted for 27 siblings who sexually assaulted adults and six minorswith Benoît-Emmanuel Peltereau-Villeneuve being one of them, the religious institute told AFP.