An independent inquiry has found that some 216,000 children have been sexually abused by members of the French Catholic clergy since 1950.
The French Catholic Church launched the inquiry following several abuse claims and prosecutions against Catholic Church officials worldwide, and spent more than two-and-a-half years combing through court, police and Church records and speaking to victims and witnesses.
The report, which is nearly 2,500 pages long, said the “vast majority” of victims were boys, many of them aged between 10 and 13.
“These figures are more than worrying, they are damning and in no way can remain without a response,” the head of the inquiry, Jean-Marc Sauvé, told reporters.
According to Jean-Marc Sauvé, 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.”
The inquiry found that the number of children abused in France could rise to 330,000, when taking into account abuses committed by lay members of the Church, such as teachers at Catholic schools.
A senior figure in the French Church expressed “shame and horror” over the findings, and asked for forgiveness.