In a report conducted through an inquiry by the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church, it is revealed that the French clergy from the Catholic Church in France is responsible for the sexual abuse of nearly 330,000 children. The commission president, Jean-Marc Sauvé talked about how the victims were silenced, intimidated, and not listened to, by the Church hierarchy.
“Until the early 2000s the Catholic church showed a profound and even cruel indifference towards the victims.” he said, adding, “The church failed to see or hear, failed to pick up on the weak signals, failed to take the rigorous measures that were necessary.”
He talked about the negligence of the church authorities including those higher in power in the French clergy, as well as the severe impact of the abuse on victims’ lives. “The consequences are very serious. About 60% of men and women who were sexually abused encounter major problems in their emotional or sexual life.”
The report is almost 2500 pages long, first set up in 2018 by the approval of the current French clergy within the Catholic Church themselves. This was only fast-forwarded due to many high-profile cases that came out and public sentiment regarding the handling of these cases was changed. The report highlights about 3,000 child abusers, two-thirds of whom were active church employees. Still, these numbers are considered an underestimation.
“We consider the church has a debt towards victims,” said Sauvé. The report is a result of rigorous research, investigation, and interviews conducted for nearly 3 years, finally made public. Since a lot of these cases are old enough to not be considered in the French court, the commission president called on the Catholic Church to compensate the victims.
Many senior officials from the current French clergy have claimed the report to be shameful and horrific.