French report: over 300,000 victims of clerical abuse [updated]
October 05, 2021
CWN Editor's Note: [Details in italics below were not included in the original CWN news brief dated October 5.]
More than 200,000 children were abused by Catholic clerics over the past 70 years, and another 100,000 by lay church workers, according to a report issued on October 5 by an independent investigating commission.
The commission estimated that at least 3,000 abusers had served as priests or other church officials in France during the period that it had studied: between 1950 and the present. That figure, the report observed, “would imply a very high number of victims per aggressor.”
The figures in the report were projections, based on an in-depth study of 1,600 cases and reports on about 10,000 incidents. These results were supplemented by a telephone survey. The report’s authors acknowledge that their final projections could overestimate or underestimate the number of victims by as many as 50,000.
The investigation concluded that 80% of the abuse victims were boys. That figure contrasts dramatically with estimates of sexual abuse in France generally, where 75% of the victims are girls.
The report was issued by the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church, established by the French bishops’ conference in November 2018. The investigation, a 30-month effort, was led by Jean-Marc Sauvé, a former vice-president of the French Council of State.
The 2,500-page report called upon Church leaders to denounce the abuse, end the culture of silence, and provide compensation for abuse victims. Until recently, said Sauvé, Church leaders had shown “a deep, cruel indifference toward victims.”
Correction: An earlier version of this report said that over 300,000 children were abused “by Catholic clerics”— failing to note the very large number reportedly abused by lay workers.
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