3 hours ago
The head of an independent commission that has investigated sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in France since 1950 said that thousands of those who worked in the religious establishment abused children.
Jean-Marc Sauvier, in a statement to Agence France-Presse, said that the commission had discovered evidence that between 2,900 and 3,200 priests or church members had committed sexual assaults, adding that this was the lowest estimate.
The French Catholic Church ordered the commission of inquiry in 2018, after it was rocked by a series of sexual assault scandals.
The commission is due to publish its final report on Tuesday, after investigations that included examining church, court and police records, and interviewing victims and witnesses.
A hotline for victims and witnesses has received thousands of calls.
Some of the testimonies were so distressing that some members of the commission, which is funded by the church, sought psychological support.
Recently, a prominent bishop of the French Catholic Church warned that the numbers in the commission’s report would be terrifying.
Figures revealed by Jean-Marc Sauvier, a retired civil servant, show the extent of sexual assault within the church.
In March, Souvet said the death toll could be at least 10,000.
AFP quoted the head of the French Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Eric de Moulin Beaufort, as saying in a meeting with his parishioners that he feared that the report would contain “massive and frightening numbers.”
In a message addressed to priests and parishes at Sunday mass, the episcopate indicated that publishing the report “would be a test of truth and a cruel and dangerous moment,” calling for “an attitude of truth and mercy.”
The committee’s report is set to compare the prevalence of sexual violence in the church with violence in other institutions and in the family circle.
The commission will also assess “the mechanisms, particularly institutional and cultural” that may have encouraged this type of crime.
Sophie noted in November that “the management of these issues has often been wrong in the past,” adding that “it is very dangerous that some institutions and a few societies may have committed systematic violations.”
After the report is published, the committee will present a list of proposals, including 45 proposals, that deal with several areas such as listening to victims, prevention, training for priests and monks, canon law and changing church management. It will also recommend a policy of recognition and compensation, according to AFP.