Europe

Inquiry finds 216,000 child sex abuse cases in French Catholic Church over 70 years

French independent commission reveals from 2,900 to 3,200 priests abused parishioners between 1950-2020

Cindi Cook and Faruk Zorlu   | 05.10.2021
Inquiry finds 216,000 child sex abuse cases in French Catholic Church over 70 years

PARIS

In a stunning revelation, an independent commission Tuesday said that there were 216,000 cases of child sex abuse in the Catholic Church in France between 1950 and 2020.

During a news conference, the French Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in Church (CIASE) said anywhere from 2,900 to 3,200 priests and other members of the church were given a free hand to abuse parishioners, which was subsequently covered up by the church leaders.

The commission was set up in 2018 by the Bishop’s Conference of France and the national congregations conference to look into the matter.

Former CIASE head Jean-Marc Sauve puts the figure of 216,000 as a minimum estimate.

The 2,500-page report, which details the abuse occurring over the past 70 years, took two and a half years of investigation.

The report discusses the mechanisms as well that allowed the abuse to continue and possible remedies for its end.

"Pope Francis learned with pain and sorrow of the report's contents during the recent visit of the French bishops to Rome," Matteo Bruni, the director of the Holy See Press Office, told journalists, according to Vatican News website.

Pope's thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their wounds, Bruni said, adding: "Pope Francis is grateful to them for “their courage to speak out” and for “turning to the Church of France, so that, having become aware of this appalling reality."

In September, Pope Francis raised the issue of sexual abuse with French bishops during a meeting at the Vatican. The issue is now expected to be studied further by the Vatican and senior members of the clergy.

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