Latest In A Litany Of Sex Abuse Scandals In Catholic Church Emerges In France

Cross in Child Hand

An investigation has found 216,000 victims under the age of 18 were sexually abused by priests and other clerics in the French Catholic Church since 1950.

The number could rise to 330,000 when including abuse by lay members.

The landmark report released on Tuesday followed two and a half years of investigation by an independent commission set up by Catholic bishops in France at the end of 2018.

The church must take responsibility for what happened, the commission said, and ensure reports of abuse were transmitted to judicial authorities.

It must also provide victims with adequate financial compensation, “which, despite not being sufficient (to address the trauma from sexual abuse), is nonetheless indispensable as it completes the recognition process.”

Jean-Marc Sauvé, chairman of the independent commission that compiled the report, told French media that the commission had found evidence of 2,900 to 3,200 abusers – out of a total of 115,000 priests and other clerics.

François Devaux, head of the victim group La Parole Liberée (The Liberated Word) said in response to the findings…. “You are a shame to our humanity. You have trampled on the obligation of protection of life and human dignity, even though it is the essence of your profession.”

Jean-Marc Sauvé explained during a press conference that the majority of victims, around 80%, were boys.

A large number of the victims were aged 10 to 13 years old. Even 11 to 12 years old. These were boys. It’s a clear characteristic of the Catholic church,” said Sauvé, adding that “these numbers are more than preoccupying, they are overwhelming, and in no case can they be left without proper action.”

The revelations, which showed the problem in France was more widespread than previously thought, were the latest to rock the Roman Catholic Church, after a series of sexual abuse scandals around the world, often involving children.

Pope Francis expressed gratitude towards victims for having the courage to come forward.

First of all his thoughts go to the victims, with great sorrow, for their wounds,” a Vatican statement said.

“(His thoughts go to) the Church of France, so that, in the awareness of this terrible reality … it may embark on a path of redemption.”

The head of the French conference of bishops, Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, said the church was shamed. Calling the report a “bombshell“, he asked for forgiveness and promised to act.