November 17, 2011
Father Henry Donneaud, the pontifical delegate who governs the Community of the Beatitudes, has announced that the community’s founder, Deacon Gérard (Ephraim) Croissant, sexually abused sisters in the community as well as an underage girl.
“His prestige as a charismatic founder, together with the seduction of his words, led most of his victims to be taken in by supposedly mystical arguments, which covered grave violations of morality with spiritual themes,” the community’s statement noted. “The new information about the gravely culpable acts committed by several of its members, in particular its founder, has led the community to move further ahead in the process of repentance and purification of its memory.”
Founded in 1972 in France by Croissant (then a Protestant), his wife, and several friends, the movement was granted approval by the Archdiocese of Albi in 1985 and was named an international association of the faithful by the Pontifical Council for the Laity in 2002. Six years later, at the behest of the Holy See, it was juridically reconfigured as a spiritual family of consecrated life, and in 2010 Cardinal Franc Rode, then prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life, granted a Father Donneaud, a Dominican, the authority to lead the community.
The community’s statement also discussed allegations of sexual abuse against other members of the community, including Brother Pierre-Etienne Albert, who will soon be on trial. Nearly 100 priests, 40 seminarians, 350 sisters, and hundreds of lay faithful belong to the movement, which arose from the charismatic renewal and embraces a Carmelite spirituality.
The Community of the Beatitudes follows the path of the Legionaries
Founder accused of sexual abuse – Vatican takes action
30 November 2011
The founder and other leaders of the “Community of the Beatitudes” (active in sixty percent of worldwide dioceses) have committed sexual abuse. Now admitting the culpability of their own leadership is the same Catholic movement, based in France, that was inspected by the Holy See one year ago. The founder, former Protestant pastor Gerard Croissant, who became a Catholic and was ordained permanent deacon in 1978, has “committed crimes against the moral law of the Church.” The victims included some of the female members of the community: “Many sisters left because of the abuses.” One of the female victims was a minor at the time of the abuse: in sum, a replay of the scandal that struck the Legionaries of Christ following the sexual violence committed by their founder, Father Marcial Maciel. The Community of the Beatitudes, led by an elected General Moderator and assisted by a Council, is made up of homes grouped into provinces.
Those who may become a member of the Community through consecration include men and women who “live the evangelical recommendations of poverty, obedience, and chastity, and, free from worldly cares, dedicate themselves zealously to prayer, spiritual readings, and service to others” as a family group: people who live continuously in a Community house, who share life and become an integrated part of the “family” without entirely assuming the Community vocation; as friends of the Lamb, believers of all kinds who “wish to share in the spirituality of the Community; who, fully integrated into the world, place at the center of their existence faith in the Gospel, prayer, and service, connected to a Community house through ties of spiritual communion and brotherly aid”; or “as members of the Beatitudes of the Holy Family, families or unmarried persons who live near a Community house which they are closely connected to, and, wishing to undertake a commitment in the spirit of the Community of the Beatitudes, participate in its apostolic activities.”
The Community of the Beatitudes counts around 1,500 members, with groups present in 29 countries: Africa (6), Asia (4), Europe (11), Middle East (2), North America (3), South America (1), and Oceania (2). The Community of the Beatitudes created the Alliance de la Charité, a non-governmental aid organization to Churches in developing countries and to missions; a hospital in Kabinda, Congo; orphanages in the Congo and Gabon; Mère de Miséricorde, which works for the defense of life; the Fraternités Saint Camille, which are Diocesan welcome and counseling centers; a publishing house and radio station; the Oeuvre Saint Bernard, for the development of sacred art and Christian-inspired artistic works;; centers for rural training and recovery homes for street children in the Central African Republic; Soleil de Justice, an association for Christian African politicians. interdiocesan seminaries on the Ivory Coast and in the Congo
The Community of the Beatitudes was founded in Montpellier, France under the name “Leon de Juda et Agneau Immolé”, by spouses Gérard (Ephraïm) and Josette Croissant who, with a couple of friends, felt called to the communitarian life of prayer and sharing. The name “Community of the Lion of Judah and the Immolated Lamb” refers to the passage in the Apocalypse that reflects the two faces of Jesus: Lion and Lamb, strength and weakness, omnipotent being and child, abundant life and annihilation, death that conquers death to open the doors to eternal life. In 1975, the Community moved to Cordes. Recognized as a Pious Union in 1979, it became an association of the faithful under diocesan law in 1985, with the approval of its statutes ad experimentum by the Archbishop of Albi. In 1991 its leaders, to make more explicit the Community’s opening to the poor, decided to adopt its current name, which is easier to bring into the cultures of the different countries of the world where it is now present.
The association is a member of the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships. On 8 December 2002, the Pontifical Council for the Laity recognized the Communauté des Béatitudes as an international association of the faithful under pontifical law. In fact, the Community has kept its original name as a “hidden name”, expressing the fundamental and invariable aspects of its vocation and a mystery it wishes to remain faithful to in its prayer and adoration. It is part of the “New Communities” that arose in the Catholic world after Vatican II.
The Community’s vocation is “a call to be true people of God who aspire to the Trinitarian life, and like Teresa of the Child Jesus, who chose all, it is located in the heart of the Church, so as to be love.” It welcomes the faithful of all kinds (married and unmarried laypeople, seminarians, priests, permanent deacons, men and women consecrated to celibacy), “who wish to conform as faithfully as possible to the primitive model of Christian community through communal life, sharing of goods, voluntary poverty, and an intense sacramental and liturgical life.” Members of the Community, whose contemplative vocation is inspired by the Carmelites, are actively engaged in service to the poor and spreading of the Gospel.
The formation program, which begins with an introduction to communal life as well as the spirit and the rules of the Community, includes communal formation in the doctrinal, spiritual, human, and professional areas during the postulant and temporary commitment period, a time of discernment of one’s own vocation and reinforcement of community unity; specific formation for every stage of life, which precedes the principal levels marking the member’s commitment in the heart of the Community and is intended to help members to fully and consistently live their own vocation. Finally, “continuous formation for all, which includes the study of the liturgy, iconography, holy scripture, Hebrew and the Judaic roots of Christianity, modern languages, and evangelization methods.”