“Many people around couldn’t imagine what was going on, myself included, even though I’d been a prison chaplain for a long time and thought I’d seen and heard everything,” he said.
For Leyds, the novelty brought out by this report is the phenomenon of psychological control, made possible by intrusion into a person’s spiritual and contemplative life.
“The abuse scandals of recent years have mainly concerned, in most cases, clergymen who used their positions of authority to physically abuse minor boys. Now we’re becoming aware of the existence of mystical kind of abuse, which comes on top of physical abuse, and consists [of] a perversion, a confiscation of the intimate link with God.”
Disconnection from institutional Church
Another central element of the commission’s analysis is the profoundly problematic approach Philippe and others in the community took toward the way they lived out leadership and community life.
In an interview with the KTO TV channel following the publication of the report, Brother Jean-Yves, the community’s communications manager, referred to a “very vertical and compartmentalized system, which has favored silence,” and a certain disconnect with the institutional Church, including the local bishops.
“It was this self-referentiality of Marie-Dominique Philippe, who constantly bypassed the institution, that allowed such a system to develop,” he said, adding that collective awareness within the community came about above all through the regulation of this institutional link.
“The more frank the dialogue and the link with the Church authorities, the more we free ourselves from this hold of Philippe.”
“I am grateful to this commission for this work of clarification and objectivity, which is painful but more than necessary, because our responsibility must be public,” Leyds said.
“It is now up to us, Brothers of St. John, to make sense of these wounds, as well as our presence in this community, and try to understand God’s will for us.
“We will continue to make progress in the right direction as long as we remain anchored in faith, hope, and charity, in the light of the risen Christ.”
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we’ll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won’t rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
At their General Chapter in 2022, the brothers, along with the female branches of the St. John Family, made the decision to no longer observe the rule of life written by Philippe and approved a new declaration that will henceforth serve as a reference for the brothers in organizing their religious and community life.