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World

05. 10. 2021. 00:00   >>  16:46 0

SINCE 1950

216,000 pedophilia cases in French Catholic Church

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 "recognize" its responsibility, denouncing "faults" and "silence," and called on the French state to help compensate the victims, notably in cases that are too old to prosecute via the courts.

France's bishops conference is meeting Tuesday to discuss next steps.

About 80% of the victims were boys.

The 2,500-page document prepared by an independent commission comes as the Catholic Church in France, like in other countries, seeks to face up to shameful secrets that were long covered up.

The commission worked for 2 1/2 years, listening to victims and witnesses and studying church, court, police and press archives starting from the 1950s.

A hotline launched at the beginning of the probe received 6,500 calls from alleged victims or people who said they knew a victim.

Sauvé denounced the church's attitude until the beginning of the 2000s as "a deep, cruel indifference toward victims."

The report says an estimated 3,000 child abusers — two-thirds of them priests — worked in the church during that period. Sauvé said the overall figure of victims includes an estimated 216,000 people abused by priests and other clerics.

Sauvé said 22 alleged crimes that can still be pursued have been forwarded to prosecutors.

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