Over 200,000 Children Sexually Abused by the French Catholic Church: Report | World news


Paris: An investigation into sexual abuse in the French Catholic Church found that around 216,000 children have been victims of abuse by the clergy since 1950, said Jean-Marc Sauvé, head of the commission that drafted the report, Tuesday, October 5.

The revelations in France are the latest to rock the Roman Catholic Church, after a string of sexual abuse scandals around the world, often involving children, over the past 20 years.

The abuse was systemic, Sauve said in a public online presentation of the report, adding that the Church had shown “deep, utter and even cruel indifference for years,” protecting itself rather than the victims.

The Church not only failed to take the necessary steps to prevent abuse, but also turned a blind eye, failing to report the abuse and sometimes knowingly putting children in contact with predators, he said.

Speaking just after Sauve during the presentation of the report, the Archbishop of Reims and head of the conference of bishops of France, Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, spoke of shame, asked for forgiveness and promised to act.

The commission was created by the Catholic bishops of France at the end of 2018 to shed light on the abuses and restore public confidence in the Church at a time of shrinking congregations. It operated independently of the Church.

Sauve said the problem was still there. He added that the Church had until the 2000s shown complete indifference to the victims and that it did not begin to really change its attitude until 2015-2016.

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The Catholic Church’s teaching on topics such as sexuality, obedience and the sanctity of the priesthood has helped create blind spots that allowed clergy sexual abuse to occur, Sauve said. , adding that the church needs to reform the way it approaches these issues in order to rebuild. trust with society.

Sauve said the commission itself had identified around 2,700 victims through a call for testimony, and thousands more were found in the archives.

But a large study by research and polling groups estimated there were around 216,000 victims, and the number could rise to 330,000 including abuse by lay members.

There have been around 2,900 to 3,200 suspected pedophiles in the French Church over the past 70 years, Sauve said.

“You are a shame for our humanity,” François Devaux, founder of the association of victims La Parole libérée, told church representatives during the public presentation of the report, before Sauve took the floor.

“In this hell, there were abominable mass crimes (…) but there was even worse, betrayal of trust, betrayal of morale, betrayal of children,” said Devaux, also accusing the Church of cowardice.

He thanked the commission, saying he hoped that the report would mark a turning point: “You finally bring to the victims an institutional recognition of the responsibility of the Church”.

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