French Orthodox Church opens inquiry into historic abuse

The head of France's Orthodox Church on Friday announced an internal investigation into alleged child abuse at a monastery in the southern Herault region more than 30 years ago.

French Orthodox Church opens inquiry into historic abuse
The Holy Trinity Cathedral of the Russian Orthodox church in Paris. Photo: Sameer Al-DOUMY/AFP

The announcement came after Liberation newspaper reported the account of three brothers who said they had been repeatedly raped there as children.

They said two members of the of the Orthodox monastery of Saint-Nicolas-de-la-Dalmerie in the late 1970s had abused them, starting when they were 8, 10 and 12 years old respectively.

“Reading this article and the information it contains, their statement is well-founded,” said Metropolitan Dimitrios, head of the Orthodox Church in France.

In a statement he promised to “seek and establish the truth.

“The authors of these acts are now dead and the unspeakable acts they committed” happened too long ago to be prosecuted in the French courts, he added.

“That is why we are committed to conducting an open and transparent investigation into this monastery, its past and its present.”

He would be “attentive to any new case that might emerge in this or any other context”, he added, would cooperate with the authorities and, it they wanted it, meet with the victims.

AFP could not reach the monastery for comment on Friday.

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French tax agent ‘kidnapped and killed while conducting an audit’

A French tax inspector was kidnapped and killed, reportedly while carrying out a tax audit in a village in northern France on Monday evening.

French tax agent 'kidnapped and killed while conducting an audit'

The 43-year-old tax agent died on Monday night in northern France, with local media Actu Pas-de-Calais reporting that he was killed by the man whom he was auditing, who later died by suicide.

Emergency services were called to the small village of Bullecourt in the Pas-de-Calais département of northern France at around 8pm. Upon arriving they found two men dead and a woman, reported to be another employee of the tax office, tied up.

She was not believed to be seriously injured but was treated for shock. 

The public prosecutor released a statement saying that both tax agents “were carrying out an at-home audit to check the accounts” of the local man reported to be a brocanteur (antique dealer), who then “kidnapped them and tied them up.” 

“The accused then killed himself with a firearm,” according to the prosecutor’s office. 

The mayor of Bullecourt, a small village of 250 inhabitants, told AFP that he remembered the accused antique dealer as a “helpful” and “ordinary person” who had “integrated into the village.”

Gabriel Attal, the Public Accounts Minister, issued a statement on Monday evening expressing his condolences and saying that the tax agent “was simply doing his job” and that “today, he did not return.” The minister lamented that the agent was “killed while completing a tax audit.”