“A monk sends pictures of him naked. This is what the readers of the Journal of Flanders could read on August 8, 2018 on the front page of their weekly newspaper in the North. In support of this “catchy” title, the photos in question: Brother Bertrand (note: the name has been changed) , 66 years old today, appears posing naked in front of a burnt out car or a fire truck. The face and private parts were blurred.
Except that the monk, a former member of the abbey of Mont-des-Cats, a Trappist monastery located near Hazebrouck (North), ensures that he is very recognizable. Especially since his religious missions are mentioned during the article, he explains in a summons for infringement of privacy addressed to the Journal of Flanders, which was to appear this Friday at the Paris court.
According to the story of the local newspaper, which spans five columns and in which the first names were changed, the monk would have met a certain Nicolas, 42 years old, during religious services within the abbey. Then begins a letter-writing relationship via Facebook between Brother Bertrand and the man who calls himself "passionate about monastic life". The conversations follow one another, until one evening, when Nicolas discovers very intimate photos of the religious in his messaging. "I logged in and he sent me a message with photos of him. On several, he was naked, ”he assures the Journal of Flanders.
End of his mission at Paris airport
Nicolas says he is shocked and writes on July 3, 2018 in the diocese of Lille, attaching the images. The information goes back and lands in the hands of the Archbishop of Lille and the manager of the Mont-des-Cats abbey. The result is the end of his remunerated mission at the Paris airport where he worked.
The matter could have ended there and not been publicized outside the religious community. Except that the shocked parishioner decided to go to the local press. In its article, in addition to the blurred photos, the weekly indicates the monastery of origin of the monk, as well as the Parisian airport where he works as chaplain. What to make the connection with brother Bertrand, reproaches Me Sébastien Rideau-Valentini, the lawyer of the monk, who evokes "a man whose aspect of the private life, true or false, is thus exposed in the press of the region where he grew up, worked and where his family and friends reside ”.
For Brad Spitz, who represents Le Journal des Flandres, the article is not to be questioned: “The photos are blurred. Brother Bertrand was not the only one who worked at this airport. The identification was made by a third party. "
The monk now has "another job"
This rapprochement is done by Mohamed David-Balme, through his Facebook page. In a publication, the Internet user, who specializes in the news of firefighters, reproduces the article from the Journal of Flanders and gives the full name of the monk. A publication still online today. Mohamed David-Balme, too, was summoned to appear on Friday, but failed to appear in court.
In addition, according to Me Rideau-Valentini, it was the investigation of the Journal of Flanders which precipitated the decision to punish the monk. "The journalist contacted the hierarchy of my client which triggered the sanctions," says the council. Not at all, retorts Mr. Brad Spitz: “The weekly only reported on the ecclesiastical procedure and the sanction. "
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Today, Bertrand lives in the Var and exercises "another position", says his lawyer. The former monk from the North, assures Me Rideau Valentini, is "always marked humanly and professionally" by this affair. The latter will be judged finally judged next March 27, she was dismissed because of the lawyers' strike.