PARIS, 5 Oct 2021:
Some 216,000 victims have been sexually abused by priests and members of the clergy in France since 1950, an independent enquiry created by the French Catholic Church reported yesterday.
If the abuses were to include those committed by lay members of the church who worked in religious environments and educational centres, the number of victims would rise to 330,000, president of the commission Jean-Marc Sauvé added.
The report has identified the church as the third most at-risk place where sexual abuse of children takes place in France, after families and networks of friends.
Sauvé said that after almost three years of investigative work, which began in 2018 following several abuse scandals within the French Catholic Church, evidence of some 3,000 abusers – all members of the clergy – had been identified.
The report revealed 2.5% and 2.8% of the clergy as abusers, a figure that is lower than other countries where similar studies have been carried out – such as Germany (4.4%), the US (4.8%), Australia (7%) or Ireland (7.5%).
Around 56% of sexual crimes took place between 1950 and 1969. From then, on there was a reduction in the number of reported abuses during the 70s and 80s which then stabilised until the current day.
Sauvé made sense of this downturn due to a decline in the number of members of the clergy during those years and fewer people gathering for public religious activities, however “the problem has not been solved.”
He accused the Catholic Church of “negligence” in the handling of reported cases and of having “kept on clergymen accused of touching children” despite the warnings.
The report is committed to creating a mechanism to compensate victims but, above all, to recognise their experiences.