A 2,500-page report documenting more than 330 thousand cases of sexual abuse was released by a commission headed by France’s Jean-Marc Sauve on October 5, 2021. The document also counted 3 thousand priests and clergy members, including other church servants involved in the coordinated coverup. Victims and advocates believe that the report is long overdue but welcomes it warmly.
Of the 330 thousand victims, 216 thousand were directly abused by priests and clerics. The rest were victims of abuse by church laypeople and by anyone who has had an influential role for the past 70 years. The numbers reported by the independent commission were based on a more extensive study conducted by France’s National Institute of Health and Medical Research (NIHMR) as the institute investigated reports of sexual abuse in the Catholic church.
Sauve’s independent commission spent three years reviewing complaints filed by the victims, police reports, and conducting interviews with victims and their families. The commission reported that up to 80% of the victims were boys, although a separate report by NIHMR estimates that 75% of the victims are girls.
François Devaux of the La Parole Liberee lambasted Catholic representatives during an online conference. ‘You are a disgrace to our humanity,” Devaux said.
Marie, whose real name is withheld, said a Catholic nun raped her during her stay at a French Catholic boarding school. “She squeezed me with one hand to her chest and pulled down my panties with the other hand,” Marie described the ordeal. Marie’s abuse lasted the entire year she stayed at the boarding school.
“There is, unfortunately, a considerable number. I would like to express to the victims my sadness and pain for the trauma that they suffered,” Pope Francis said during his regular audience at the Vatican. These are just empty words. As the Catholic church faces scrutiny worldwide, high-ranking leaders of the Catholic church give nothing but apathetic sympathies and promises that things will change.
Pope Francis’ and the words of the Catholic church mean nothing. Concrete actions must be taken; priests must be jailed, not transferred around dioceses where they can continue preying on innocent lives. Sauve calls the Catholic church’s coverup “systemic.” “We consider the church has a debt towards victims,” Sauve added.
One of the victims said “I had to wait for my parents to die” because of the shame.
French President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday, October 6, that a lot of work needs to be done to get justice for all the victims. “There is a need for truth and compensation,” Macron said.