Wednesday, December 8, 2021

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French priests abused 216,000 victims since 1950

An inquiry has revealed that some 216,000 children have been sexually abused by members of the French Catholic clergy since 1950.

The independent inquiry warned that the number could rise to 330,000 when abuse by lay members of the Church was included.

The head of the inquiry, Jean-Marc Sauvé, said the figures were “overwhelming”.

The French Church expressed “shame and horror” over the findings, and asked for forgiveness.

One victim called the report a turning point in France’s history, and said it was time for the Catholic Church to fundamentally reassess its actions.

The inquiry was commissioned by the French Catholic Church in 2018, and spent more than two-and-a-half years combing through court, police and Church records and speaking to victims and witnesses.

According to the nearly 2,500 page long report, the “vast majority” of victims were pre-adolescent boys from a wide variety of social backgrounds.

The inquiry recommended changes to the Church’s culture and practices, including limitations on the secrecy of confession in cases of abuse.

Earlier this year, Pope Francis changed the Roman Catholic Church’s laws to explicitly criminalise sexual abuse, in the biggest overhaul of the criminal code for nearly 40 years.

Most cases assessed by the panel are thought to be too old to prosecute under French law.

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