“It is an earthquake, a hurricane, a tsunami (…) when you see these figures, it is so reprehensible that no one can continue to deny it, neither the Catholic Church nor society as a whole.” Olivier Savignac was sexually abused by a priest in 1993, when he was 13 years old. 28 years later, he has been one of the survivors who have collaborated to produce a report, prepared by an independent commission, whose first results give a good example of the horror experienced in the French Church, at least since 1950.
The Spanish Church debates about the victims of abuse … without the victims
The text estimates that in this period there have been between 2,900 and 3,200 pedophile priests (2% of the clergy throughout these 70 years), who came to abuse 216,000 people. If we add the abuses in Catholic schools or institutions, the drama rises to 330,000 victims.
The president of the investigation commission, Jean-Marc Sauvé, explained some of the details of the investigation, for which the French Church (which has not yet issued an official statement on the figures) ordered the opening of all its files. Something that, in Spain or Italy, has not yet been done, being the only countries in our environment whose episcopate does not want to count the victims of pedophilia among their ranks. Over 17 months, investigators were able to dive into ecclesiastical, judicial and police archives, and received 6,500 calls or contacts from victims or relatives.
“Cruel indifference” of the Church
Sauvé denounced the “cruel indifference” of the Catholic Church towards the victims until the beginning of 2000. For this reason, the commission proposes “to recognize the responsibility of the Church”. A responsibility that implies an economic “repair”. “We must compensate the damage suffered by the victims, even without any fault identified and characterized by the Church,” said the person responsible for the report.
The data is devastating. Of the 115,000 priests or religious registered in the last 70 years in France, there were “between 2,900 and 3,200 pedophiles,” said Sauvé, specifying that it is a “minimum estimate.” Regarding the victims, the figure is scandalous, and far exceeds the preliminary estimate advanced in March, which spoke of 10,000 cases. Now the study estimates 330,000 victims in the Gallic Church. The commission’s president, a practicing Catholic, required psychological care during the investigation, he revealed to Afp.
The conclusions of the report show how the French Church is the third place where more sexual abuse of minors takes place in the country, only behind the family or the circles of friendship.
The scandal in France is the latest to affect the Roman Catholic Church, which has been rocked by sexual abuse scandals around the world, often involving children, for the past 20 years. In most cases, the facts are now prescribed and the perpetrators of the abuses dead, making a recourse to justice unlikely.
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