An independent investigation into sexual abuse in the French Catholic Church has found that over 330,000 children were victims of sexual assault by French clergy since 1950s. This estimate has been confirmed and compiled by the head of the commission, Jean-Marc Sauve.
The Commission, established by Catholic Bishops in France has worked independently from the Church, ever since it was founded in 2018. Its aim even back then was to shed light on abuses and restore public faith in the Church.
The latest disclosure, however, was much more staggering and widespread than previously thought and augmented to the series of sexual abuse scandals involving the Roman Catholic Church with children as victims.
As per the report, most of the victims were boys aged between 10 and 13.
Sauve affirmed the abuse to be systematic, at a public online presentation of the report, saying that the Church had shown, “deep, total and even cruel indifference for years, protecting itself rather than the victims of what was systemic abuse.” He strongly accused the Church to have turned a blind eye to the intra-institutional sponsored abuse inflicted on innocent children disturbingly for seven decades.
He implied that the Church not only failed to report abuse that was very evident but also played an almost palpable part in deliberately putting children in touch with the predators.
“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,” the report says.
Pope Francis expressed “great sorrow” for the victims while reacting to the devastating report. “His thoughts turn first to the victims, with great sorrow for their wounds and gratitude for their courage in speaking out.” says, a Vatican spokesman on the behalf of the pontiff.
Sauve further proposed that the Church needs to reform the ways in which it approaches subjects such as sexuality, obedience, and the sanctity of the priesthood which has been creating a lack of perception, allowing sexual abuse by the clergy to happen.
He also postulated that since the assaults were conducted within the premises of the Church, the Church, henceforth, must take complete responsibility for what happened, and should seek judicial intervention.
He demands adequate financial compensation to be provided to the families of the victims, “which, despite not being sufficient (to address the trauma from sexual abuse), is nonetheless indispensable as it completes the recognition process.”
Systematically checking the criminal record of any person assigned by the Church to be in regular contact with children or other vulnerable groups and providing priests with adequate training are also few things added to the list of recommendations.