Thousands of priests abused children in France’s Catholic Churches, inquiry finds

Estimated 3,000 child abusers employed by Catholic Church in France over last 70 years, major review finds

Joanna Taylor
Monday 04 October 2021 02:46
<p>Pope Francis has attempted to address the issue of paedophilia in the Catholic church</p>

Pope Francis has attempted to address the issue of paedophilia in the Catholic church

Thousands of child abusers have worked in France’s Catholic Church over the past 70 years, according to an independent commission investigating sexual abuse.

An estimated 3,000 abusers have been employed by the church since the 1950s, two-thirds of whom are priests, commission president Jean-Marc Sauve said.

Mr Sauve gave the estimate in an interview with France’s Journal du Dimanche newspaper ahead of the full findings’s release on Tuesday.

The purpose of the investigation is to identify the causes of the widespread abuse and to try to bring some of the perpetrators to justice.

During the two-and-a-half-year investigation, 22 abuse cases were sent to prosecutors Mr Sauve said, while more than 40 alleged crimes that are too old to be prosecuted but involve living suspects have been forwarded to church officials.

He added that an estimated number of victims will be included in the commission’s report.

“We evaluated their number at 3,000, out of 115,000 priests and church people since the 1950s,” Mr Save said. “Two-thirds are diocesan priests.”

He continued: “From 1950 to 1970, the church is completely indifferent to the victims. They don’t exist, the suffering inflicted on children is ignored. The periods that followed were different.

“Our objective is to furnish a concrete diagnosis of all the abuses, to identify the causes and draw all of the consequences.”

The French Catholic Church said that it would hold prayers on 5 October, the day the full findings are released, on behalf of victims. They also posted a prayer for victims on Twitter.

“Dear Lord – we entrust to you all those who have been victims of violence and sexual attacks in the Church.

“We pray that we will always be able to count on your support and help during these ordeals.”

Since his election in 2013, Pope Francis has attempted to address the issue of paedophilia in the Catholic Church, which has embroiled the institution in multiple scandals.

Earlier this year he revised church law to compel bishops to take action against clerics who abuse children and vulnerable adults.

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