Villagers pray for dead babies found in France
Locals prayed on Sunday for eight newborn babies found dead in a quiet French village and for their mother who admitted smothering and hiding them.
Some 200 people joined in special prayers for the babies during a regular mass at the parish church in Arleux, near the village of Villers-au-Tertre where Dominique Cottrez admitted killing the newborns over two decades.
"We think of those eight little babies who were born for life but were not allowed the chance to live and grow up," priest Robert Meignette told the congregation, before lighting eight candles for the dead.
He added a prayer for "all the members of the Cottrez family."
Relatives and locals have struggled to comprehend what drove Cottrez, a 45-year-old nursing assistant with two grown-up daughters, to kill each baby after the births, which authorities say spanned the years 1989 to 2006-7.
"God is the only judge," said another preacher present at Sunday's mass, Larry Brown, naming Dominique Cottrez in his prayers. "We must refrain from judging her and, even more strongly, from hating her."
Cottrez was charged with murder on Thursday after the new owners of her parents' former home found the remains of two newborns buried in plastic bags in the garden.
The skeletal remains of the other six infants were later found dumped, also in plastic sacks, in the garage of her current home.
Prosecutor Eric Vaillant said Cottrez admitted suffocating the infants because after having two daughters "she did not want any more children" and did not want "to see a doctor to get contraception."
© 2010 AFP