The report found that 216,000 children had been sexually abused by French clergy since 1950

© Reuters A woman walks to St.-Salpis Church in Paris, France, October 4, 2021.

Written by Christian Low

PARIS (Reuters) – An investigation into sexual harassment at the French Catholic Church has found that an estimated 216,000 children have been abused by priests since 1950, the report’s head, Jean-March Sauv, said on Tuesday.

The latest incident in the Roman Catholic Church in France, following a series of sexual abuse scandals around the world over the past 20 years, often involves children.

In a public, online presentation of the report, Sauv said the abuse was systematic.

He said the church not only took the necessary steps to prevent abuse but also closed its eyes, failed to report abuse and sometimes knowingly put children in contact with predators.

The commission was set up by Catholic bishops in France in late 2018 to shed light on blasphemy and restore public confidence in the church at a time of decline in the church. It worked independently of the church.

The problem still exists, Sauv said. He added that until 2000 the church showed complete indifference to the victims and in 2015-2016 it only began to change its attitude.

The commission itself has identified about 2,700 victims, but a comprehensive study by research and polling groups estimates that about 216,000 have been victimized, Sowe said. The number could go up to another 330,000, including abuse by ordinary members.

“You are a disgrace to our humanity,” he told church representatives at the report’s public presentation before taking the floor.

“This hell has been a heinous mass crime … but worse, betrayal of faith, betrayal of morale, betrayal of children,” DeVax also accused the church of cowardice.

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