A report of the independent commission by the bishops reports that there have been about 216 thousand victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in France from 1950 till today. The shocking data were disclosed on 9th October by the commission of inquiry on sexual abuse in the Church of France led by Jean-March Sauvé. During the presentation of the report, he explained that the number of victims could rise to 330 thousand if abuses committed by lay members of the Church are included.
The report, based on Church, court and police archives, and interviews with victims, says about 3,000 paedophiles, two-thirds of the priests, worked in the Church during the time. The investigation was commissioned by the French Catholic Church itself in 2018 following a series of scandals in other countries and to restore trust in the clergy.
The senior official spoke of a phenomenon “of a systemic nature,” and based on scientific research, the estimate includes abuses committed by priests and other religious and non-religious persons involved in the Church. He said around 80% are male victims. “The consequences are very serious – Sauvé said -. About 60% of men and women who have suffered sexual abuse encounter major problems in their love or sex life”.
The president of the French Bishops’ Conference, Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, said: “We are stunned, their voices are shaking us, their number afflicts us. I wish to ask forgiveness, forgiveness from each of you”. The commission that compiled the report called for compensation for the victims and decisive action from the Church.