He is one of the 3,000 pedophiles identified by the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church, the CIASE, which returns its report this Tuesday to the Conference of Bishops of France. Gérard Mercury is a former priest who hit the headlines in Bordeaux more than twenty years ago. A multi-repeat pedophile priest sentenced in Toulon, and who had then been moved to Gironde. He is the first priest dismissed by the Church in France for acts of sexual abuse of minors.
“Traumatic facts for the families of victims”
He arrived “on recommendation” through a religious congregation present in Bègles – Abbé Jean Rouet
One day in October in the year 2000, the gendarmes knock on the door of the presbytery of Pessac. Father Gérard Mercury recognizes inappropriate gestures towards six teenagers. Sexual assaults committed between 1994 and 1999 in Léognan.
“He was a young man who confided in his parents at the age of 18. I knew his family from whom I had generated the sacrament of marriage, it was she who alerted me”, remembers Father Jean Rouet, Honorary Vicar General of the Diocese of Bordeaux, in charge of the team welcoming victims of pedophile acts within the church.
We then learned that Father Mercury who came from the diocese of Toulon had already abused children. It’s a total erasure
A “displaced” pedophile priest
The judicial investigation quickly revealed that the parish priest who practiced in Léognan and Saint-Médard-d’Eyrans is a repeat pedophile. Less than a decade earlier, in 1991, the Draguignan court in the Var had already been sentenced to 18 months suspended prison sentence for similar acts committed in the diocese of Toulon.
“At the time, says Father Jean Rouet, we accused the diocese of Bordeaux of knowing but no we did not know, we had no information on what had happened in Toulon “.
This is where we are, it’s true, irresponsible, to welcome people without knowing their past
First imprisoned in the Gradignan remand center, Gérard Mercury was finally sentenced once again later. In 2001, the Bordeaux court imposed a four-year prison sentence on him with a life ban on carrying out activities related to children. For ten years after his release, the priest remains subject to judicial and medical control.
Criminal justice and canonical judgment
After criminal justice comes a canonical judgment taken in Rome. In November 2001, Gérard Mercury was “renewed in the secular state”. Father Jean Rouet presides over the ceremony, a first in the Church of France.
“I remember very well that moment when I gave him this canonical court decision. This shocked me because he only talks about himself and at no time about the victims, which is an extremely strong sign of an illness and a deep evil. The interview only lasted a very short time because I found it unbearable “, says the honorary vicar general of the diocese of Bordeaux.
This Mercury affair and “others” “humiliate us and cover us with shame”, affirms Jean Rouet, who calls for “welcome this truth whatever the harm it does to us”.
We must act responsibly
“In 2001 and 2002, in the wake of the Mercury affair, we organized training days for all actors, priests, lay people, college directors, on the right distance to maintain between an educator and a child. many other things to do “, recognizes Jean Rouet. The submission of the CIASE report on Tuesday is a step in this process of raising awareness of the institution.