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French Catholic report brought shocking revelations

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French Catholic clergy have sexually abused at least 216,000 people since 1950. If the abuse by people without official function within the church is included, there could be as many as 330,000 victims, according to a committee investigating at the request of the church.

The commission led by Jean-Marc Sauvé has referred 22 cases of alleged sexual abuse within the French Catholic Church to justice. Some 40 cases would have been statute of limitations, while the alleged perpetrators would still be alive. The committee has passed on these people’s data to the church.

In about 80% of cases, victims are boys or men, the committee concludes. Sauvé says that 60 percent of the victims have problems with sexuality and their emotional life.

The committee has been investigating abuse within the French Catholic Church since 2018. On Sunday, Sauvé announced that an estimated “between 2,900 and 3,200 abusers around abuse” (priests or monastic people) have been or have been active since 1950.

The problem still exists, said Sauvé during the presentation of the report. He also criticized the church’s attitude. It would have been indifferent to the victims of the abuse for decades – at least until 2000. There was negligence, silence and a lack of measures against the abuse, says Sauvé.

A spokesman for the Vatican reports that the pope “with pain” took note of the contents of the report. “His thoughts go primarily to the victims, with great sorrow for their wounds and gratitude for their courage to speak out.”

Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, the head of the French Episcopal Conference, said he felt “shame and disgust” in a response to the report. He also asked for forgiveness. The committee was founded at the end of 2018 by French bishops who wanted to clarify the abuse in their own country and restore public confidence in the church. In that year, Pope Francis said that sexual abuse within the church should be eradicated.

An organization speaking on behalf of the victims of the abuse is shocked by the conclusions in the 2,500-page report.

“216,000 victims and 3,000 perpetrators, that means 70 victims per perpetrator,” Olivier Savignac said on behalf of the victims.

In 2019, the researchers asked witnesses to come forward. They also opened a tip line. That led to thousands of reactions.

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