“We are stunned by these accusations. In my opinion, pure backbiting. ”Danièle Kaeser was president of the Vevey parish council from 2000 to 2012, that is to say the years when Father Paul Frochaux officiated in the city. The latter is accused by Father Nicodemus Mekongo of sexual harassment for acts that allegedly took place between 2008 and 2011. View of Vevey and in the eyes of several Church members in French-speaking Switzerland, the case is being turned around against the informer.
Father Frochaux is described as “an extraordinary priest, positive and dynamic, appreciated by all, a model”. “With his imposing presence, it was not for nothing that he was appointed parish priest of the cathedral, a position in which highly valued people are placed,” said a fine connoisseur of episcopal questions.
Conversely, Father Nicodemus (as he calls himself) is described by several people as someone “somewhat special, calm and appreciated as a seminarian, but who had changed his behavior when he became a priest” . Given his personality, many doubt the accusations he makes.
Baby in the closet?
Currently in Peseux, he would share his life with a woman and a child “whose father no one knows: on the baptismal register, it is written” of an unknown father “. The bishop has asked for a paternity test, but Father Nicodemus refuses it, “it is said. Nicodemus Mekongo denies that this child is his and evokes a father in Cameroon. He said he was prevented from carrying out a DNA test: “the parents forbade me to touch the child. I can not object: we are in a country of law! And people don’t have to interfere in my life: she is the only family I have here. Bishop Morerod clearly implies that I have a child with her. But my cousin wrote to him that I was not the father. “
This situation could be at the origin of what some see as a revenge of Father Nicodemus against Father Frochaux. Indeed, the mother of the child had already shaken the spirits in Vevey, where she had first been presented as a sister, then as a cousin: “When he wanted to move in with her at the cure, Father Frochaux was absolutely opposed to it, ”says Danièle Kaeser. “Vevey had a bad reputation at the time (read opposite). Father Frochaux was very careful that it did not happen again, “said a parishioner. Faced with this refusal, “he got angry. We brought in the bishop, says Paul Frochaux. From then on, he practically ate nothing at the cure, claiming that it was too expensive. “The” cousin “lived in the cure Saint-Jean, Father Nicodème in that of Notre-Dame.
“This story of woman and child is not the biggest reproach that is addressed to her,” said an expert in the ecclesiastical world. Which details: “The abbots stay five years, renewable, in one place. This may be less, because sometimes alchemy does not work in teams. But if it’s always the same thing, it’s not a good sign, ”alluding to the fact that Father Nicodème has passed since 2014 in Yverdon, Charmey, Grand-Lancy and Peseux.
What happened there? In Yverdon, the faithful were “shocked” by his position during the mass against a building project (at 6 million) defended by the majority of the Parish Council. “It was interference and it was certainly not the place: he took the assembly hostage!” Protested a parishioner. Who, like others, complained to the vicar episcopal. In Monday’s La Liberté, Bishop Mgr Morerod said that the faithful of Peseux asked him to move the abbot.
Nicodemus Mekongo defends himself: “In Yverdon, I refused to affix my signature to an unsustainable real estate project. In Grand-Lancy, I was against certain heterodox practices of colleagues, notably the intercommunion celebration, where the pastor and the priest celebrate the Eucharist together. I also objected to Peseux because it is prohibited by the Catholic Church. Instead of defending myself, on March 29, Bishop Morerod asked me to resign immediately without specific reason. It’s simply an abuse of power! In July, he ordered a preliminary inquiry against me. The two priests mandated to hear me canceled the meeting the day before. Why ?”
In the dismissal proceedings against Father Nicodemus, it would seem that these priests have given up hearing him, given the conditions he set for this interview.
Among the persons accused by Father Nicodème, Father Edgar Imer, who died in 2016, allegedly “caressed his thighs and nipples” was also in Vevey. Two parishioners giggle: “Impossible, because Father Imer teased women!” “Heterosexual, he was charming with women, but always in public and never having broken his priestly commitments,” says a priest who knew him well . “People are free to say what they want, I’m talking about what I have suffered,” retorts Nicodemus Mekongo. I pushed this abbot’s hand on my thigh several times in the car. “
According to Father Nicodemus, the other two abbots spoke only of sex, generating a “homoerotic climate”. In hospital settings, gritty jokes are legion. In the funeral home, people laugh at death to relieve the pressure. Did humor in the Vevey cure revolve around the supreme taboo of priests? Father Frochaux concedes “not to forbid some gags, because we are people of the 21st century. But we were not just talking about that! “” From the moment I asked them to stop and they continued, these were not jokes for me, opposes Nicodemus Mekongo. We were colleagues, not intimate or friends. They didn’t have to impose this lifestyle on me. ”
As for the three times that Father Frochaux went to pajamas in Father Nicodème’s room? “Maybe he came to check that there was no woman, since he had forbidden her,” asked a parishioner. Paul Frochaux categorically denies any incursion, for whatever reason.
But if he had bad intentions, why would he appear in pajamas rather than naked? Why wouldn’t he have slipped under the sheets? Why wouldn’t he have made advances? “He did it to me: he told me that he had experienced some great things with my predecessor. I, on the other hand, refused. After three times, there are questions to be asked. ”
A conspiratorial affair
According to the “Tages-Anzeiger”, which revealed the accusations of Father Nicodème Mekongo against Father Paul Frochaux, Father Nicodème Mekongo believes that Bishop Morerod wanted to remove him so that he would not be heard in the proceedings of appointment to the bishopric of Chur.
Other voices put forward other hypotheses: “What a strange coincidence that, when the facts would have taken place between 2008 and 2011, Father Nicodemus is just now speaking that an investigation (editor’s note for revocation) is open against him by the bishop! As if by chance, his accusations are aimed at two relatives of Bishop Morerod, his assistant and the parish priest of the cathedral, Father Paul Frochaux, “analyzes a fine connoisseur of episcopal questions.
Father Nicodème Mekongo, for his part, affirms: “There would have been a case between Father Paul Frochaux and a young person which ended in a confrontation with the bishopric in 2001. For me, this clearly demonstrates that is not without reproaches, contrary to what he claims. ”
Father Frochaux explains: “I took a 17-year-old boy to my chalet in Torgon in 1999, for whom I had great affection and whom I considered to be my son. He had other expectations of me, which I did not have. We explained ourselves to the bishop and everything was settled. “A version that confirms in all points Mgr Rémy Berchier, who adds:” There had been no attack and no reprehensible event. “
While few people attended this meeting at the bishopric, who could have spoken of this twenty-year-old story? And for what purpose to bring it out now? This case will still have to deliver answers.
Meanwhile, Father Frochaux said he was “deeply hurt by all these false accusations and these fabrications. But I’m holding on thanks to the countless messages and expressions of support that keep coming.
Created: 12.31.2019, 8:10 p.m.