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Father, I Forgive You. Surviving a Broken Childhood (Mon père, je vous pardonne: Survivre à une enfance brisée)

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Original Language: French | 240 pp. | February 2017

2 Seas Represents: Dutch, Nordic, and North American Rights.

Rights sold: Italy (Piemme, in a pre-empt), Poland (Znak, in a pre-empt), Germany (Herder, at auction), Slovenia (Družina), Spain (Loyola, at auction)

Foreword by Pope Francis.

TRUE STORY | MEMOIR

‘It is difficult for a victim of paedophilia to speak out about what they have endured and to describe the trauma that still persists many years later.  That is why Daniel Pittet’s account is so needed, so precious and so courageous. I thank Daniel, because testimonies like his breach the wall of silence which covers up scandals and suffering and they shine a light into a terrible area of darkness in the deeds of the Church.’ – Pope Francis

Geneva, 10 June 1959. Daniel Pittet is still in the womb when his father attempts to murder his mother. When he is born a month later, he is already a survivor. His childhood is chaotic and, after his parents separate, Daniel and his siblings are shunted around a series of foster families and children’s homes.

In 1968, at the age of nine, Daniel meets a Capuchin friar named Joël Allaz. One day after mass, the friar invites the boy to come with him to the convent, and this marks the beginning of a terrible ordeal. Over the course of four years, Daniel is raped by this manipulative friar twice a week (and every day during the holidays). Trapped in an infernal cycle and unable to speak out about what he is enduring, he has to contend with the state of denial of his family and the other friars at the convent.

The path to healing is a long one, but support in adulthood from those closest to him as well as his unshakeable faith are his salvation, enabling him to embark on a professional career, to found a family and to father six children. Daniel still bears many psychological and physical scars from his past. One of the strengths of this book is to make the reader aware of how deep the wounds of abused children run, remaining unhealed even decades later. In the early 2000s, he decided to go to the police and succeeded in getting his rapist to acknowledge his crimes – crimes which he continued to perpetrate over many years and which involved more than a hundred children – and also in getting the Church to recognise its responsibilities. Today he continues to campaign on his own behalf and on behalf of all survivors of paedophilia.

This is the incredibly moving and courageous story of man who is still standing and who, despite the still raw pain, has found the strength to forgive his abuser.

This book contains an afterword featuring an interview conducted by Mgr Charles Morerod, the Bishop of Freiburg, and by Micheline Repond (co-author of the book) with Father Joël Allaz. This is a highly unusual and very compelling undertaking, it being very rare for a paedophile to speak publicly.

Born in 1959, Daniel Pittet is the founder of the ‘Prier Témoigner’ [Pray, Bear Witness] association and works as a librarian in Freiburg.