PARIS — An impartial fee investigating sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in France because the Nineteen Fifties mentioned on Tuesday that the abuse was much more pervasive and systemic than beforehand identified, laying out in element how victims had been repeatedly silenced and the way church authorities had did not report or self-discipline abusive clergy.
The fee’s extremely awaited, 2,500-page report, meticulously compiled over the previous three years by impartial specialists on the request of the Catholic Church in France, was probably the most intensive account up to now of the scope of sexual abuse by clergy in the nation, particularly towards kids and weak folks.
Since 1950, about 216,000 minors have been abused by clergy members in France and there have been on the very least 2,900 to three,200 perpetrators of sexual abuse amongst clergy members, in keeping with an estimate by the fee that was primarily based on a demographic and archival evaluation.
Jean-Marc Sauvé, the president of the fee, mentioned that these numbers, whereas estimates, the place “damning” and mirrored a “systemic” failing by the church.
“The church failed to see or hear, failed to pick up on the weak signals, failed to take the rigorous measures that were necessary,” Mr. Sauvé mentioned at a information convention in Paris on Tuesday. For years, he mentioned, the church confirmed a “deep, total and even cruel indifference toward victims.”
In 2018, confronted with rising criticism of the church’s dealing with of sexual abuse scandals, high Roman Catholic authorities in France — the Bishop’s Conference of France and the nationwide congregations convention — requested Mr. Sauvé, a well-respected, high-ranking civil servant, to steer a newly created investigative fee, known as the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church.
Victims of abuse by clergy members, in addition to specialists in the matter, welcomed the report, however mentioned it was too early to inform if the church would act on the fee’s suggestions.
The report adopted comparable efforts in current years to reveal or doc sexual abuse allegations towards Roman Catholic clergy members in Australia, Germany, Ireland, Poland, the United States and different nations because the church continues to grapple with the devastation wrought by sexual abuse scandals during the last quarter-century.
“You are a disgrace for our humanity,” François Devaux, co-founder of a victims affiliation, mentioned on the information convention on Tuesday, instantly addressing the various Catholic officers in the auditorium.
Mr. Devaux based La Parole Libérée, an affiliation of victims of Bernard Preynat, a former priest who was accused of sexually assaulting dozens of Boy Scouts from the Seventies to the Nineties and who was convicted in a high-profile case final yr.
“You must pay for all of these crimes,” Mr. Devaux mentioned, emphasizing every phrase.
Mr. Sauvé chosen 21 specialists, together with sociologists, historians, jurists, psychologists and theologians, who dug by means of church, state and information archives, held over 250 hearings with witnesses and specialists, and labored with demographic, polling and analysis institutes.
Crucially, they labored in shut tandem with sexual abuse victims. Nearly 6,500 folks, victims or these near them, submitted oral or written testimony to the fee.
Many victims praised the fee for its thoroughness and hailed the report as a much-needed corrective after years of denial or minimizing from the church.
“Victims were worried that it might tone things down,” Mr. Devaux mentioned of the report. Instead, he mentioned in an interview, “they did not skip a single question.”
“Not only did they give a quantitative and qualitative account of the scope of sexual violence, they tried to understand where it came from — the institutional mechanisms,” he added.
There has been a rising reckoning with sexual abuse in the church in France after a collection of high-profile scandals, particularly the Preynat affair, which embroiled a cardinal in Lyon who was accused of failing to report the abuse.
The case turned an emblem of the church’s failings and its secretive strategy to coping with abuse circumstances, but it surely additionally signaled a shift in the willingness of victims to talk out and problem church authorities.
“Before that, things were handled with shame,” mentioned Isabelle de Gaulmyn, a high editor at La Croix, France’s main Catholic newspaper, who wrote a guide in regards to the Preynat case. “And they said, ‘No, we were abused, we are going to hold people accountable, and we are going to do so openly,’” she added, referring to Mr. Preynat’s accusers.