French Service Aims to Support Religious Life

Bishops Hope to Keep Sects From Springing Up

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PARIS, MAY 28, 2001 ( The French bishops´ conference has set up a support group for consecrated people within the Church in order to keep sects from popping up.

The initiative, known as Welcome-Mediation for Religious and Community Life («Accueil-médiation pour la vie religieuse et communitaire»), aims to offer sympathy and help those in doubt.

It has 11 members — four nuns, three men religious, two diocesan priests and two laymen — all experts in providing spiritual support to consecrated individuals. They will welcome and respond to questions about Catholic community life.

Father Bernard Hayet, the bishops´ assistant secretary-general for pastoral issues, will be responsible for receiving requests, accusations and consultations. He will relay them to Assumption Sister Éliane de Montebello, a doctor in canon law.

Among the members of the service is Father Jean Vernette, regarded as the country´s leading expert on sects.

In a statement, Father Stanislas Lalanne, spokesman of the bishops´ conference, said the new service has four objectives: «to welcome and listen to individuals; to analyze the real situations presented; if possible, to open the way for mediation, mutual understanding and reconciliation; and, eventually, transmit the dossiers to the appropriate authorities.»

His statement adds: «In all circumstances, religious and community life merits to be supported, defended and promoted.»

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