PARIS (AP) — An estimated 330,000 children were victims of sex abuse within France’s Catholic Church over the past 70 years, according to a major report released Thursday that is France’s first major reckoning with the devastating phenomenon.
The figure includes abuses committed by some 3,000 priests and other people involved in the church — wrongdoing that Catholic authorities covered up over decades in a “systemic manner,” according to the president of the commission that issued the report, Jean-Marc Sauvé.
The commission urged the church to take strong action, denouncing “faults” and “silence.” It also called on the French state to help compensate the victims, notably in cases that are too old to prosecute via the courts.
The report found the huge scale of sexual abuse in the Catholic church was higher than in other institutions such as state schools, holiday camps and sporting organisations. “The Catholic church is, after the circle of family and friends, the environment that has the highest prevalence of sexual violence,” the report said.