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By Joseph Romero

PARIS, 31 MAY 2011 — Manifestly, the Vatican has a troubled history with sex and deceit. The influential contemporary Italian artist and court jester Maurizio Cattelan made that clear in his prescient 1999 work La Nona Ora (The Ninth Hour), where Pope John Paul II is felled by a meteorite as if by the hand of God. Now, according to French journalist and author Serge Bilé, the Vatican has another problem on its hands, one that has been percolating  since World War II — racism against Africans. 

In his book entitled Et si Dieu n'aimait pas les Noirs? (And What if God Did Not Like Blacks?), co-authored with Audifac Ignace and published in 2009 (Éd. Pascal Galodé), Mr. Bilé investigates decades-old complaints of racism brought against the Holy See and its current candidate for sainthood, Pius XII. In doing so, the RFO (Radio France Outremer) journalist explores Roman Catholicism's perception of blacks in Africa and the diaspora, the Vatican's alleged racial discrimination during the ecclesiastical training of Africans and their precarious conditions as immigrant clergy in the Eternal City, and most disturbingly, the sexual abuse of African nuns by priests.  

This last topic is the focus of a trailer for Serge Bilé's new 52-minute on-line documentary, Une Journée dans la Vie de Marie-Madeleine (A Day in the Life of Mary Magdalene). In it, Mr. Bilé records nuns from convents in Rome, France, Congo and elsewhere who describe repeated sexual abuse by senior prelates — in some cases with the complicity of the convent itself.

Couvent et sexualité
For more see Serge Bilé's Blog on DailyMotion.

One French nun shares her knowledge of a clinic near Lyon with a special wing where nuns can discreetly deliver their babies or terminate a pregnancy. Another nun confesses losing her virginity at age 42 in a love affair with a priest in Paris during meetings on Catechism classes for handicapped children. In Rome, one African nun speaks frankly about being dispatched to the Vatican by her convent to avoid scandal over her pregnancy, while another admits to prostitution in order to afford basic necessities such as shoes and underwear. The trailer ends with remarks by a French physician in Martinique who has offered advanced pre-natal medical care to cloistered nuns, or listened to their desperate requests for an abortion.

This is not Serge Bilé's first peek into Pandora's box. An earlier documentary on the deportation of French, Spanish and German citizens of African or Afro-European descent to Nazi concentration camps was also a revelation for many.

In that film, he interviews the few that managed to survive the camps and, for whatever reason, escape the gas chambers. Particularly riveting is an extensive legal analysis by an elderly Afro-German camp survivor of the German racial laws as they applied to assimilated Jews and Germans of mixed African and European heritage. In most cases, they were the children or grandchildren of an African (from a territory like Tanganyika in the pre-World War I German East Africa colony) and a metropolitan European. Like all Jews in Europe, these mixed race Germans were considered undesirable contaminants of the true Aryan race and (were) therefore to be exterminated. Most perished.

External Link: Noirs dans les camps nazis (film complet) (Blacks in Nazi Camps - complete film: 52 minutes by Serge Bilé

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