the Bishop of Saint-Etienne, meeting the inhabitants of Grammond

The dioceses of Lyon, Saint-Etienne and Grenoble have announced that they have recorded a series of sexual assaults on minors committed in the 70s and 80s by the priest Louis Ribes, known for his frescoes in churches in the region. The monk, who died in 1994, was nicknamed “the Picasso of churches”. The Bishop of Saint-Etienne must meet this Tuesday evening January 17, 2022, the inhabitants of Grammond, the native village of Father Ribes.

Father Louis Ribes, who was nicknamed “the Picasso of the churches”, is suspected of having committed sexual abuse of minors in the 70s and 80s, in the dioceses of Lyon, Saint-Etienne and Grenoble-Vienne. The affair has just broken out, 28 years after his death.

The Bishop of Saint-Étienne, Mgr Sylvain Bataille, is due to go to Grammond, this Tuesday evening January 17, 2022. It was in this village of 900 inhabitants of the Monts du Lyonnais that Father Ribes was born in 1920. A meeting is planned with the inhabitants. It is scheduled from 8 p.m., room of a thousand clubs. The priest returned regularly to his native village, especially during his summer vacation. Died in 1994, it is also in this village that he was buried.

This new case of pedophilia involving a religious has just been revealed, a few months after the revelations of the Sauvé commission, last October. In a joint press release, dated January 13, 2022, the dioceses of Lyon, Saint-Etienne and Grenoble-Vienne indicate that several people have declared that they have been victims of sexual assaults committed by Father Louis Ribes.

“I learned of the facts at the beginning of January. The father was a priest from the Diocese of Lyon and not from Saint-Etienne. I had heard from afar that there might be a difficulty with him but I was not not concerned. At the beginning of January, I discovered that he was from Saint-Etienne and therefore that there could be a place with the Diocese,” explains Mgr Bataille, Bishop of the Diocese of Saint-Etienne. “Father Rives died 28 years ago, he is no longer a dangerous man. On the other hand, there may be people injured, including in the Diocese”.

Victims must be able to speak. Our objective is to be able to support and help potential victims.

Mgr Bataille, Bishop of the Diocese of Saint-Etienne

In their press release, the three dioceses express their intention to act against sexual abuse: they invite the victims to make themselves known to the listening cells of the dioceses, with the possibility of an appointment if they wish.

“We made this press release so that people could come forward if they wanted to, if there was a need to free up speech. Following our press release, two people came forward today”, says Bishop Bataille.

Paintings, stained glass windows and frescoes by Father Louis Ribes adorn the walls of some fifteen churches in the region. Some works, signed “RIB”, are protected as historical monuments.

“Out of respect for the victims, the works of Father Ribes, which belong to the diocese of Lyon, Grenoble-Vienne and Saint-Etienne, will be gradually deposited and stored”, specifies the press release of January 13. What will happen to the two works which appear in the church of Grammond? The issue should also be addressed during the meeting that will take place at the end of the day.

In this village, he made two beautiful works on each side of the choir of the church. (…). We said to ourselves: if these works can hurt even one person, I don’t think we can leave them in the choir of a church. But we cannot make these decisions alone, we make them with the people who have participated in these works and with the inhabitants of the village,” explains Bishop Bataille.

Why not take the decision to deposit the two works? “We are in a communal church which does not belong to the Catholic Church. The building belongs to the commune, it is necessarily with the commune and the inhabitants that these things are decided,” explains the prelate. For the ecclesiastical authorities, the dismantling of the works of Father Rives should not be the occasion for new tensions.

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