Sexual abuse in the French Catholic Church proves that vital lessons have not been learnt

Not only does the Church need to find a way of making reparations, it also needs to cut through this culture of denial and negligence, writes Serena Tarling

Wednesday 06 October 2021 00:01
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<p>Jean-Marc Sauve said the abuse was ‘systemic’ </p>

Jean-Marc Sauve said the abuse was ‘systemic’

The report into sexual abuse in the French Catholic Church, revealing that up to 330,000 children were victims of abuse by clergy over the past 70 years, is devastating; and further shatters confidence in the very institutions in which people have placed their trust. Similar scandals have rocked the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland and beyond – both in the Catholic and Anglican Church.

Yesterday, as the head of the commission that compiled the report, Jean-Marc Sauve, gave his statement on its publication, one thing in particular leapt out. The abuse was systemic, he said, adding: “The Church not only did not take the necessary measures to prevent abuse but also turned a blind eye, failing to report abuse and sometimes knowingly putting children in touch with predators.”

The fundamental point was that lessons have not been learnt, and vital information was not acted upon. Not only does the Church need to find a way of making reparations, calling priests, and numerous lay-people to account who were directly culpable, it also needs to cut through this culture of denial and negligence.

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