Thursday, 20 Jan 2022

Pope Francis addresses appalling French Catholic Church child abuse – ‘Time for shame’

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After a first statement released on Tuesday following the publication of the Sauvé report in France, Pope Francis publicly addressed the appalling conclusions of the study on Wednesday from the Vatican. A two-year investigation led by an independent commission concluded nearly 330,000 children were victims of sex abuse within France’s Catholic Church between 1950 to 2020.

According to the 2,500-page study, 80 percent of victims were young boys between the ages of 10 and 13, however many girls also suffered abuse, not only by priests but also by nuns.

“Until the early 2000s, the Catholic Church showed a profound and even cruel indifference towards the victims,” commission chief Jean-Marc Sauvé told a press conference on Tuesday.

Mr Sauvé said victims were either not believed or not heard when they were not suspected of being “in part responsible.”

The gaslighting was reportedly a part of a “systematic” covering up of child abuse by the Catholic authorities over 70 years as reported by the commission.

During his weekly audience, Pope Francis expressed to the victims his “sadness and pain for the trauma they have suffered.”

“And also my shame, our shame, my shame, for the inability of the Church for too long to put them at the centre of its concerns,” he said.

“I pray and we all pray together – to you Lord the glory, to us the shame.

“This is the time for shame.”

In France, the president of the Bishops’ Conference of France, which co-requested the report, expressed his “shame and horror” at the findings.

“My wish today is to ask forgiveness from each of you,” Archbishop Eric de Moulins-Beaufort told AP.

“No one expected such a high number [of victims] to come out of the survey and that is properly frightening and out of proportion with the perception that we’ve had on the ground.”

Olivier Savignac, the head of victims association Parler et Revivre (Speak Out and Live Again) said the church can no longer look the other way.

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“We can see how systemic it was… with an estimated number of 216,000 [minor] victims,” Savignac told Reuters.

“It’s an earthquake, a hurricane, a tsunami… when you see these numbers, it’s so damning that no one can stay in denial, whether the Catholic Church or society as a whole,” he added.

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