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Sunday, October 24, 2021

Church sex abuse: Thousands of paedophiles in French Church, inquiry says


Thousands of paedophiles have operated within the French Catholic Church since 1950, the head of a panel investigating abuses by church members says.

According to Jean-Marc Sauvé, the commission found evidence of 2,900 to 3,200 abusers out of a total of 115,000 priests and other clerics.

“That is a conservative estimate,” he added.

On Tuesday, the commission will issue a lengthy report. It is based on archives from churches, courts, and police departments, as well as interviews with victims.

Following a number of scandals in other countries, the French Catholic Church commissioned the independent investigation in 2018.

Mr Sauvé, a senior civil servant, told the French newspaper Le Monde that the panel had handed over evidence to prosecutors in 22 cases where criminal charges could still be brought.

He went on to say that bishops and other senior church officials had been informed of other allegations against still-living people.

Members of the commission included doctors, historians, sociologists, and theologians. Over the course of two and a half years, more than 6,500 victims and witnesses were contacted. The final report runs to 2,500 pages.

Christopher Lamb, of the Roman Catholic publication The Tablet, told the BBC that abuse scandals had plunged the Church into “its greatest crisis in… 500 years”.

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

The new rules make sex abuse, grooming minors, possessing child pornography and covering up abuse an offence under Canon Law.

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