Within the Roman Catholic Church in France, an estimated 330,000 children were sexually assaulted between 1950 and 2020. Some 216,000 of them were victims of priests and other clergy. That says in a comprehensive report by a French Commission of Inquiry, presented this morning. The victims were mostly boys between the ages of 6 and 15.
The Church is therefore held accountable for 4 percent of the sexual abuse cases in France during that period. The investigation is based on archival material from the church, courts and police, as well as witnesses interviews. A member of the committee of inquiry said earlier this year that she was shocked by the cruelty and sadism associated with the violence.
On Sunday it was announced that of 115,000 priests and other religious officials within the French Roman Catholic Church, there were 2900 to 3200 paedophile since 1950.
The 2,500 -page report contains 45 recommendations. The researchers say a thorough reform of the Catholic Church is needed to prevent sexual abuse in the future.
Most abusive cases occurred between 1950 and 1969, and there was a significant decline between 1970 and 1990. According to the committee, this is because the church had become much less important in society and fewer people, including children, went to. In recent years, the number of abusive cases within the church has remained stable.
People should not have the illusion that there is no major problem left now, committee chairman Sauvé said during the presentation of the report. “The problem remains. There should be zero tolerance, but people are protecting each other within the church,” Sauvé said.
Bishops personally liable
The French commission has spent 2.5 years in the investigation. There were 22 people in it, including lawyers, historians, sociologists and theologians.
It was decided to set up the committee after Pope Francis said that bishops would be held personally liable for covering up abusive cases. He made a law that obliges church employees to report abuse if they are aware of it. The penalties for perpetrators have also been tougher.