Report: French Catholic Church Showed 'Cruel Indifference'

Commission finds 330K children may have been sexually abused by clergy, laypeople since 1950
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 5, 2021 8:59 AM CDT
Over 70 Years, French Clergy Sexually Abused 215K Kids: Report
Commission head Jean-Marc Sauve speaks Tuesday in Paris during the publishing of a report by an independent commission into sexual abuse by church officials.   (Thomas Coex, Pool via AP)

A new report slams the Catholic Church for "cruel indifference," with clergy in France accused of sexually abusing an estimated 216,000 children since 1950. Jean-Marc Sauve, head of the inquiry commissioned by the French Catholic Church, says most of the victims over the past seven decades were boys, many between the ages of 10 and 13, with the Church failing to prevent abuse, report it to higher-ups, and keep children away from known predators, per Reuters.

  • The perps: The investigation, established in late 2018 by French Catholic bishops, found up to 3,200 suspected abusers, though that figure is thought to be an undercount.
  • Even more victims? The independent commission—which conducted interviews with victims and witnesses and pored over police, court, and Church records—noted that the number of victims could rise to as high as 330,000 when taking into account abuse committed by laypeople working within Catholic schools and affiliated youth programs, per CNN.
  • Notable quote: "The Catholic Church is the place where the prevalence of sexual violence is at its highest, other than in family and friend circles," the report states. "Faced with this scourge, for a very long time the Catholic Church's immediate reaction was to protect itself as an institution, and it has shown complete, even cruel indifference to those having suffered abuse."
  • An apology, of sorts: Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, who helms the Bishops' Conference of France, asked for forgiveness and said he felt "shame and horror" over the findings, reports the BBC.
  • From victims: One church abuse victim, now an adult, told Church reps as the report was presented that they were a "disgrace to humanity," per Reuters. "In this hell there have been abominable mass crimes," said Francois Devaux. Another tells CNN his abuser's actions were like "the spinning of a spiderweb that traps you."
  • What the report calls for: The commission wants the Church to take responsibility for past abuse; set up measures to prevent future abuse, including offering priests training and reporting potential abuse to judicial authorities; and checking for criminal records for anyone set to work with kids or vulnerable people within the Church. The commission also calls for financial compensation for victims to "[complete] the recognition process."
(More Catholic Church sex scandals stories.)

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