Jean-Marc Sauvé, the sage of the Republic


The former vice-president of the Council of State worked for nearly three years on sexual abuse in the Church. He now heads the independent commission responsible for the Estates General of Justice.

« Ah good, I thought you were the grandson of General de Gaulle, » said a little disappointed this young girl presented to him by a friend on a wedding day. “It was the first disappointment I inflicted on her, but she overcame it and, a few years later, she became my wife,” says Jean-Marc Sauvé, smiling. In addition to the features and the allure, he has borrowed from the General, over the years, part of his body language … At the head for thirty-two months of the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church ( Ciase), he receives us in the premises of the latter, which he occupies until the end of the month. He has to sort through the archives and send some 3,000 copies of the report, just printed. He handed it over on October 5.

Ten days later, he attended his first meeting of the Estates General of Justice. Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti and the Head of State had asked him to head the independent commission responsible for this new project. It almost declined because of the exhaustion in which its mission on the Church had left it and the brevity of the initial schedule. The latter has been loosened – « the president said it had to be finished by the end of winter, and winter ends on March 20 » – his sense of responsibility did the rest. « From the moment when the deadline allows an effective and serious work, I felt that I could not escape », he sums up, conceding « a trace of pride ».

He attended 550 Council of Ministers and worked with 4 presidents

Its mission: to take stock of the functioning of a public service based on the expectations and frustrations of litigants, justice actors – magistrates, clerks, prison staff – and its partners, such as lawyers. A digital consultation has started. At the same time, citizen workshops and working groups are held. In January, a convergence workshop should allow their respective opinions to be compared. From this will result a synthesis and a set of proposals. Along with the eleven other members of the Committee of the Estates General, he is the guarantor of the smooth running of the procedure, of its impartiality and of the absence of interference from the political context on a subject that risks being at the heart of the debates of the presidential. A major stake.

But after what he went through, Jean-Marc Sauvé can not he tackle everything? « And take responsibility for all the sins of the world? It is not because we have succeeded in ascending the rock of Sisyphus on sexual abuse that I believe myself capable of taking up the most varied and the most insoluble challenges, ”he insists, lucidly. That said, he thinks he can bring something to the reflection on justice, he who joined the Ministry of Justice on June 1, 1981, as technical advisor to Maurice Faure then to Robert Badinter before taking the head of a direction. “Forty years later, it’s a form of going back to basics,” analyzes the former vice-president of the Council of State for twelve years.

An existence far from what the life of this son of farmers from the Somme could have been like, brought up in a family of five children… At the age of 10, he left his family to become a boarder. After having passed the Éna competition, he finally decided to join the novitiate with the Jesuits in Lyon. He spent two years there before realizing that it was not his way. He does not regret anything: « I had some unique experiences there, I lived with Travelers, took care of autistic people … » He returns to Éna, of which he is a major. He has since attended 550 Council of Ministers, worked with 12 ministers, 9 prime ministers and 4 presidents of the Republic. More than a career as a senior civil servant, a vocation. Haïm Korsia, who has since become Chief Rabbi of France, had slipped to him one day: “You hesitated between serving God and serving men before realizing that for you, serving men was the best way. to serve God. « 

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