Priests in the French Catholic Church have reportedly abused hundreds of thousands of children since the 1950s.
Speaking during the release of a 2,500 page report into sexual abuse by members of the French Catholic Church, head of the investigating panel, Jean-Marc Sauvé, stated that the figure number could rise further when taking into account abuse committed by lay members of the Church.
The French Catholic Church commissioned the inquiry in 2018, with the aim of addressing ‘the mechanisms, notably institutional and cultural ones’ within the Church that allowed paedophiles to remain, offering a total of 45 proposals.
It has now been revealed around 216,000 children were abused over such a time period, while that figure could rise to the region of 330,000.
The commission, comprised of 22 legal professionals, doctors, historians, sociologists and theologians, was created following the passing of Pope Francis’ landmark measure meaning those within the Church are now obligated to report any knowledge of sex abuse to their superiors.
The report, released today, October 5, follows two and a half years worth of research, with the commission drawing from church, court and police archives, and witness interviews.
Senior civil servant Sauvé stated that the Church had shown ‘a profound and even cruel indifference towards the victims’ up until the early 2000s, BBC News reports.
The report uncovered evidence that, within the Church, there was a minimum of 2,900 to 3,200 abusers out of 115,000 priests and other clerics.
The ‘vast majority’ of those who suffered abuse are understood to be pre-adolescent boys from a range of socio-economic backgrounds.
According to the report, which has been described as a turning point in French history by one survivor, ‘the Catholic Church is, after the circle of family and friends, the environment that has the highest prevalence of sexual violence’.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence regarding the welfare of a child, contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000, 8am–10pm Monday to Friday, 9am–6pm weekends. If you are a child seeking advice and support, call Childline for free on 0800 1111