At least 3,000 sex abuse cases in French church

The Tablet

June 18, 2020

By Tom Heneghan

Paris – More than 3,000 people have been sexually abused by about 1,500 priests and employees of the French Catholic Church since 1950, the head of the most extensive study into the scandal said in a preliminary balance of its work.

Jean-Marc Sauvé, a retired senior judge due to deliver his final report in autumn 2021, said his commission would continue seeking out and interviewing victims until October and scouring judicial archives. This phase was supposed to end this month but was prolonged due to a delay during the cornavirus lockdown.

The commission’s hotline has received 5,300 calls so far but some were victims calling several times. This was the first such overall estimate made for France, Sauvé said, adding he was “deeply convinced” there are many more victims.

“The number of calls is impressive, but we are convinced that still not all victims have come forward because their suffering is too great or they doubt any use in speaking out,” he told a videoconference on Wednesday.

The bishops’ conference, under pressure amid mounting evidence of abuse scandals – especially in Lyon – that sapped its image and authority, gave Sauvé a free hand to choose the 21 doctors, lawyers, sociologists and theologians serving in the commission.

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