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News > France

Catholic Church Covered 330,000 Sex Crimes In France

  • A children crying.

    A children crying. | Photo: Twitter/ @complicitclergy

Published 5 October 2021

The ecclesial authorities concealed the abuses committed by 3,200 pedophiles who operated inside the French Catholic Church since 1950.

The Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the French Church (CIASE) announced that between 2,900 and 3,200 Catholic religious have been involved in 330,000 cases of sexual abuse or violence against minors or vulnerable persons since 1950.


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Through interviews with victims and analysis of church archives, the Commission uncovered a bleak outlook for the Catholic Church "far greater than expected," admitted Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, the president of the French Bishops' Conference.

For years, the Catholic Church did not respond in a timely manner to the warning signals launched by the victims. CIASE identified 216,000 victims of sexual abuse committed directly by clergy and 114,000 cases attributable to lay people working for the church.

Unlike what usually happens in cases of sexual abuse, 80 percent of the victims of sexual assault by Catholic religious were men between the ages of 10 and 13, the CIASE President Jean-Marc Sauve pointed out, adding that the number of victims identified could be a lot higher.

For this reason, he appealed to the Catholic Church to "apologize" and compensate the victims, most of whom have significant problems with sexual and psychological behavior. Commenting on this issue, however, the president of the French bishops referred very briefly to compensation, which is the main claim of the victims' associations.

"You must pay for all these crimes," said the president of the Liberated Word organization, Francois Devaux, who was a victim of sexual abuse during his childhood. "Sexual violence in the church has not been eradicated," he added, commenting that the CIASE report depicts a "terrifying" panorama.

While 56 percent of the cases occurred between 1950 and 1969, 22 percent of sexual assaults occurred between 1970 and 1999. Sauve attributed this relative decline to lower French attendance at the Catholic Church and not to actions taken by the Vatican. This institution only began to take measures to combat pedophilia after media scandals broke out.

"There was a deep, total and cruel indifference to the victims," ​​Sauve said and recalled that the Catholic Church directed its efforts to "protect the institution" and to "keep the clergy in the priesthood."

The Commission recommended reviewing the confidentiality of confession so that it cannot be applied in the case of the commission of crimes. It also suggested the incorporation of laity in the governing bodies of the church to prevent religious from accumulating all power and the incorporation of matters related to sexual morality in the formation of priests.

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