French Catholic Church probe finds 216,000 sex abuse victims

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Oct 05 2021 08:07 PM

A man prays inside the Saint-Martin co Reuters
A man prays inside the Saint-Martin church in Vertou near Nantes, France, October 5, 2021. Stephane Mahe, Reuters

An independent inquiry into alleged sex abuse of minors by French Catholic priests, deacons and other clergy has found some 216,000 victims of pedophilia from 1950 to 2020, a "massive phenomenon" that was covered up for decades by a "veil of silence."

The landmark report, released Tuesday after two and a half years of investigations, follows widespread outrage over a string of pedophilia claims and prosecutions against Church officials worldwide.

When lay members of the Church such as teachers at Catholic schools are included, the number of child abuse victims climbs to 330,000 over the seven-decade period.

"Until the early 2000s the Catholic Church showed a profound and even cruel indifference towards the victims," the president of the investigative committee, Jean-Marc Sauve, said at a press conference.

He denounced the "systemic character" of efforts to shield clergy from pedophilia claims.

The report, at nearly 2,500 pages, found that the "vast majority" of victims were pre-adolescent boys from a wide variety of social backgrounds.

"The Catholic Church is, after the circle of family and friends, the environment that has the highest prevalence of sexual violence," the report said.

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