Survivor talks about ‘tsunami’ of victims ahead of French Catholic Church report

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By Tangi Salaün

PARIS (Reuters) – A report on sexual abuse by Catholic clergymen in France is expected to show around 216,000 victims since 1950, said a survivor who contributed to the case before it was released on Tuesday.

An independent commission has spent more than 2.5 years investigating sexual abuse in the country’s Catholic Church over the past seven decades. He is expected to present his findings at 9:00 a.m. (07:00 GMT).

Ahead of the publication of his findings, Commission President Jean-Marc Sauve declared about 3,000 priests and clerics to be pedophiles https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/french-catholic-church-had- estimated-3000 -pedophiles-since the 1950s-commission-2021-10-03 abused minors during the period, and called this number a conservative estimate.

Olivier Savignac, who was sexually assaulted by a priest in 1993 at the age of 13, contributed to the report as a representative of the victims and saw much of the document. He said the victims should be properly compensated.

“We can see how systemic it was… with an estimated 216,000 casualties,” Savignac told Reuters, citing the report and adding that the Church could not have ignored something of this magnitude.

“It’s an earthquake, a hurricane, a tsunami … when you see these numbers, it’s so overwhelming that no one can stay in denial, be it the Catholic Church or society as a whole. “said Savignac, who created an association of victims. , Talk and Relive.

Reuters did not have access to the report prior to its publication and could not independently verify its contents. A Church spokesperson said he would not comment until it was posted. The independent commission could not be reached for comment.

A Vatican spokesperson said over the weekend that it would wait for the full report to be released before deciding whether or not to comment.

PRAYER FOR VICTIMS

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.

The man who abused Savignac as a teenager was convicted by a French court two years ago, but that’s an exception, he said, stressing how difficult it is for them. young Catholics to speak out and accuse the representatives of the Church.

“What we expect from the Church is an answer in terms of what people have suffered,” says Savignac, “and that cannot throw him a few thousand euros and say that it is behind us. No, there needs to be compensation appropriate to the level of what each person has suffered. “

The French Church announced in March that it would offer financial assistance to the victims.

The scandal in the French Church is the latest to hit the Roman Catholic Church, which has been rocked by sexual abuse scandals around the world, often involving children, over the past 20 years.

In June, Pope Francis declared the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church a global “catastrophe”.

The French Catholic Church posted a prayer on its official Twitter account on Sunday on behalf of the victims.

“Dear Lord, we entrust to you all those who have been victims of violence and sexual assault in the Church. We pray that we can always count on your support and help during these trials, “he wrote on his Twitter account.

Since his election in 2013, François has taken a series of measures aimed at eliminating the sexual abuse of minors committed by religious.

This year, he released the most comprehensive review of Catholic Church law in four decades, insisting that bishops take action against clerics who abuse minors and vulnerable adults. Critics said he hadn’t done enough.

(Reporting by Tangi Salaun; writing by Ingrid Melander; editing by Alison Williams)


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