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330,000 children abused in French Catholic Church over 70 years, landmark report estimates

Jean-Marc Sauvé speaks at the launch of the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church’s final report in Paris, France, Oct. 5, 2021. / Screenshot from CIASE Facebook page.

Paris, France, Oct 5, 2021 / 05:45 am (CNA).

Hundreds of thousands of children were abused in the Catholic Church in France over the past 70 years, an independent commission concluded on Tuesday.

The Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church (CIASE) published its final report on Oct. 5 at a live-streamed presentation in Paris.

The almost 2,500-page report said that an estimated 216,000 children were abused by priests, deacons, monks, or nuns from 1950 to 2020.

It added that when abuse by other Church workers was also taken into account, “the estimated number of child victims rises to 330,000 for the whole of the period.”

Presenting the report, Jean-Marc Sauvé, president of CIASE, said: “While, in absolute and relative terms, these acts of violence were in decline up until the early 1990s, they have since stopped decreasing.”

“The Catholic Church is the place where the prevalence of sexual violence is at its highest, other than in family and friend circles.”

“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.”

Screenshot from CIASE Facebook page.
Screenshot from CIASE Facebook page.

Matteo Bruni, director of the Holy See press office, said on Oct. 5 that Pope Francis was informed about the final report by the French bishops during their recent ad limina visits to Rome.

“His thoughts go first of all to the victims, with great sorrow, for their wounds, and gratitude, for their courage in speaking out, and to the Church of France, so that, in the awareness of this terrible reality, united to the suffering of the Lord for his most vulnerable children, she may undertake a path of redemption,” Bruni said.

“With his prayer, the pope entrusts to the Lord the People of God in France, particularly the victims, that He may give them comfort and consolation, and with justice there may come the miracle of healing.”

The independent commission, established by the French bishops in November 2018, spent 30 months investigating abuse within the Catholic Church led by Sauvé, a senior civil servant.

The final report said that “most of the victims were pre-adolescent boys from all social backgrounds.”

It estimated that there were “between 2,900 and 3,200” abusers out of 115,000 clergy and monks, which it noted “would imply a very high number of victims per aggressor.”

The study suggested that “more than a third of sexual assaults within the Catholic Church were committed, not by clergy or monks, but by lay people.”

“Due to a lack of scientific certitude, the commission renounced trying to estimate the number of adult victims of sexual assault in the Church,” the report said.

An official summary of the final report argued that the Church’s attitude towards abuse did not begin to change until the 1990s.

“It was only from 2010 that the Church began to recognize victims when it started reporting cases to the judicial system, imposing canonical sanctions and accepted that dealing with aggressors should no longer be an internal affair,” it said.

Sauvé formally presented the report to Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, president of the French bishops’ conference (CEF), and Sister Véronique Margron, president of the Conference of Religious of France (CORREF), at the event in Paris.

Speaking on behalf of his fellow bishops, Moulins-Beaufort said: “To those who have been victims of such acts by priests, religious or others in the Church, I express my shame, my horror, my determination to act with them so that the refusal to see, the refusal to hear, the desire to hide or mask the facts, the reluctance to denounce them publicly, disappear from the attitudes of the ecclesial authorities, of priests and pastoral workers, of all the faithful.”

François Devaux, president of La Parole Libérée. Screenshot from CIASE Facebook page.
François Devaux, president of La Parole Libérée. Screenshot from CIASE Facebook page.

Other speakers included François Devaux, president of La Parole Libérée, an abuse survivors’ group.

Addressing perpetrators of clerical abuse and bishops involved in cover-ups, he said: “You are a disgrace to our humanity, you have trampled by your behavior the obligation of divine natural law, of protection of life and dignity of the person, while it is the very essence of your institution.”

The CIASE report, entitled “Sexual Violence in the Catholic Church: France 1950-2020,” made 45 recommendations, including systemic criminal record checks for Church employees working with children, creating an effective national support system for victims, offering liturgical events highlighting the impact of abuse, and introducing measures such as keeping “a physical space between the priest and the penitent during confession.”

The report also called for changes to Church law. While acknowledging recent revisions to the section of the Code of Canon Law concerning penal sanctions, CIASE called for “a wide-ranging overhaul of canon law in criminal matters, and in dealing with and sanctioning offenses.”

“This should begin with a clear definition of the offenses in the Code of Canon Law and their implementing legislation, specifying applicable reference standards by establishing a scale of the gravity of offenses and by distributing a collection of case law in the matter,” it said.

“Secondly, canonical criminal procedure needs to be reworked and aligned with basic fair trial rules, thereby giving victims a place in canonical procedure — which is not the case today.”

Sauvé commented: “Faced with so many historical or recent traumas, the commission believes that there can be no question of ‘turning the page.’”

“The future cannot be built on denial or on burying the harsh reality; recognition and responsibility are required in order to advance. It is vital to really deliver justice to the men and women who have suffered, in body and soul, from sexual violence in the Catholic Church.”

He added: “Consequently, everything must be done to repair, in so far as is possible, the harm which has been done to them and to help them rebuild their lives. And to eradicate the breeding ground of abuse and the impunity of the perpetrators of these crimes.”

“Such a step forward cannot bypass the need for a humble acknowledgment of responsibility from the Church authorities for the mistakes and crimes committed under its auspices. This will involve taking a path of contrition — on a level with the scale of suffering — which cannot be conceived and covered in a matter of days or weeks.”

This report was updated at 06:03 a.m. MDT to include comments by Matteo Bruni, director of the Holy See press office.


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14 Comments

  1. The media is reporting this as “Nuns raped girls with crosses”.
    Personally, that sounds entirely fabricated to me. But of course the media is portraying it that way because they want to avoid the obvious – that it was homosexual priests preying on young boys.
    Also the number is way out of wack. In the US, they found something like 10,000 victims over 50 years. The French had 300,000?
    No, it’s another fake report, probably funded by some homosexual group.

    • Yes, the number is out of whack. Here is what Ed Condon wrote on yesterday’s The Pillar email (no link available):

      Devastating as the numbers are, it seems important to recognize them as estimates. In fact, as estimates they raise some important questions.

      The French report suggests that somewhere between two and three percent of clerics may have committed acts of abuse — a number on par with studies in other countries. But the number of potential alleged victims per priest is comparatively off-the-charts.

      The report estimates the abuse of 216,000 children by 3,2000 clerics, over seven decades, which would suggest that each abusive cleric abused an average of 67.5 children.

      In the United States, a 2004 study, the “John Jay Report,” found that 59% of accused priests were accused of a single allegation, and fewer than three percent of all priests accused of abuse are alleged to have had more than 10 victims. That is a marked difference from the numbers in the French report, which alleges an average of 67.5 victims per alleged abusive priest.

      That difference could raise questions about the accuracy of the report. It might also suggest a more comprehensive study?

      Why does the accuracy of the French estimates matter? Why does it merit further study? In the first place, the Church in France has said she wants to make restitution for victims, so having a realistic and accurate sense of the number of victims is important.

      Also, the report’s estimated number of clerical abuse victims, 116,000, will be the number to make headlines, and be mentioned frequently in the ongoing fallout from the report in France.

      If the methodology is off — if there are actually fewer victims, or actually more abusive priests — that should be understood, so that reform efforts can target the problem as it actually is, and as it actually was.

      If the report’s methodology is correct, and abusive French clerics actually had many, many more victims than clerics in other places, the reasons for the disparity needs to be understood. That’s important for ensuring safe environments in the entire Church, as lessons will be learned in other countries from the situation in France.

  2. Taylor Marshall’s “Infiltration – The Plot to destroy the Church from Within” will help Catholics to understand. Published by Crisis Publications, Sophia Institute Press with a foreword by Bishop Athanasius Schneider. What is happening is a long-published plan (republished in the book) that has been unfolding since the 18th century. In 1958 the man elected Pope was forced to stand down – just like Pope Benendict XVI – and make way for the free masons. From 1958 to 1989 there was an extended Petrine Ministry because Cardinal Siri was elected with the Charge of the Papacy, but threatened to stand down by the French Free Mason Infiltrate Cardinal Viollot and his mafia. Popes John Paul II and PPBXVI tried to plug the holes in the sinking barque of st Peter, but a second period of extended Petrine Ministry began in 2013 when the duly elected Pope was forced to give way to the Sankt Gallen Mafia. Their aim is to use the corruption and abuse for which they are responsible to finish the Alta Vendita and utterly destroy the Catholic Church (the goal of Free Masonry). Catholics need to take heart during this final phase of this great Apostasy in their Rosary, the eternal Mass of Pius V that the Sankt Gallen Mafia is in a frenzy to outlaw, and firm to the catechism of Pope Pius X (which PPBXVI affirmed is of course still perfectly valid, just like the eternally valid Mass of the Apostles).
    The Sankt Gallen Mafia, the C6 Politbureau, will pass. Vatican II, the Modernist Heresy, the Apostasy will pass. Novos Ordo Seculorum will pass. The faith will survive. And faithful Catholics will survive thanks to the faith they will not surrender to these Wolves that made our Martyr Pope flee the Active Ministry, but not the Charge and Grace of the Papacy. Take Heart. Read “Christus Vincit – Christ’s Triumph Over the Darkness of Our Age” by Bishop Athanasius Scheider. The victims of abuse are all victims of the Sankt Gallen Mafia and their evil networks, not Holy Mother Church. thanks to Archbishop Vigano, Cardinal McCarrick – the Chinese Expert who helped Bergoglio to the Throne – could not chair a second abuse summit in person.

  3. The sankt Gallen Mafia running the networks that are responsible for the sex abuse in the Catholic Church. Inheritors of the Masonic Rampolla Network, these traitors are charged with the destruction of the Bride of Christ in exchange for the protection they enjoy from outside the Church (Superlodge “Three Eyes” according to Henri Barbier, 2020. “Three Eyes” images were displayed throughout the Catholic Church after March 2013). Cardinal ‘Kingmaker’ McCarrick – who began his pedophile career in Sankt Gallen (Taylor Marshall, 2019) – was in charge of the first Catholic Abuse summit in 2009 but unable to host his second one in 2019 due to the intervention of Sankt Gallen Mafia Whistle-blower Archbishop Vigano. McCarrick was sent by Bergoglio – in full knoweldge of the man’s crimes – to clinch the Chinese deal that PPBXVI had refused to sign in 2012. The Sankt Gallen Mafia – still ruling the Catholic Church by its protection from outside – is now presenting itself as a movement of reformers to solve their network issues. The Sankt Gallen Mafia – as the very root of the PROBLEM – cannot be the SOLUTION – as Germany is discovering. Catholics who want to understand in more detail have Taylor Marshall’s “Infilitration The Plot to destroy the church from within” available from Crisis Publications at Sophia Institute Press:
    https://www.amazon.com/Infiltration-Plot-Destroy-Church-Within/dp/1622828461/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=infiltration+taylor+marshall&qid=1633462701&sr=8-1

  4. “Turning the page”! Like “stepping on an ant”? Or “Kicking the cantaloupe”? What if there is no writing on the next page? Non-sensical. France has had it malheureusement.

    • The C6 Politbureau – the Sankt Gallen Mafia Judas Ring – and our martyr Pope PPBXVI can all serve a purpose in the Divine Plan. Watch if Novos Ordo antiRome doesn’t bring down 400 years of New World Order with it, liberating the World from Communism and the Wolves that PPBXVI fled, rebuilding nation states under Summorum Pontificum.

  5. The money quote:

    “The final report said that “most of the victims were pre-adolescent boys from all social backgrounds.”

  6. The Commission was instituted by the French bishops. Is it not so ? What is the use of estimated figures of abuse, abusers and the victims that relate to the past seventy years. Why the state of affairs for the ten preceding years only could be taken and the abuser’s charged ? The hierarchy must study why there is such large scale breach of priestly celibacy happens . The seminary preparation needs to be reviewed. Fasting and prayer life of the priests and the religious must give prominence. The dearth of good families is the main reason

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