Factbox-France’s investigation into the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church


PARIS (Reuters) – An independent commission will shed light on the extent of sexual abuse committed by Catholic clergymen in France since 1950 on Tuesday.

Ahead of the publication of his findings, Commission President Jean-Marc Sauve declared about 3,000 priests and pedophile clerics https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/french-catholic-church-had- estimated-3000-pedophiles-since the 1950s-commission-2021-10-03 abused minors over the five-decade period, and called that number a conservative estimate.

The publication marks the culmination of two and a half years of work. The investigation was commissioned by the French Catholic Church in 2018, when Pope Francis called on his clergy to end child sexual abuse.


In 2020, Roman Catholic priest Bernard Preynat was found guilty of sexually abusing dozens of Boy Scouts decades earlier. He was sentenced to five years in prison.

The case involved a senior cardinal and put Europe’s top clergy in the spotlight as the Pope came under fire for the Church’s response to a crisis that was gravely damaging his global standing.

Cardinal Philippe Barbarin was found guilty of failing to report historic allegations of abuse against Preynat in 2019, but his conviction was later overturned https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/french-court-upholds -not-guilty- decision-cardinal-sex-abuse-case-2021-04-14 on appeal on the grounds that the alleged victims were adults at the time he learned of the abuse.

In 2018, the former bishop of Orleans André Fort received an eight-month suspended sentence for failing to report the actions of another pedophile priest. This priest, Pierre de Coye de Castelet, was sentenced to two years in prison.


The Catholic bishops of France called in 2018 for the creation of an independent commission to shed light on past abuses and restore public confidence in the Church at a time of shrinking congregations.

Sauve, a senior official, heads a commission with 21 other members including sociologists, magistrates, law professors and theologians. They include people of different faiths, as well as atheists and agnostics.

In 2019, the diocese of Paris agreed to transmit to the capital prosecutor any allegation of sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy even if the victim had not filed a complaint.

In March of this year, the Church announced that it would offer financial aid to help victims of pedophile clergymen. He also voted for the creation of a council “for the fight against pedophilia”.


The French survey comes years after similar surveys in the United States, Ireland and Australia.

In 2002, an independent US commission began investigating abuses committed during a period similar to that covered by the French investigation. He revealed that more than 10,000 people had been abused by more than 4,000 predatory priests. The American Catholic Church has paid out about $ 3.2 billion to address clergy abuse cases, according to BishopAccountability.org, which tracks the issue.

In 2009, a study commissioned by the Irish government found that Catholic priests and nuns had terrorized thousands of children for decades. He said rape and assault were rampant in schools and orphanages run by the Irish Catholic Church.

An Australian public inquiry in 2017 recommended that Catholic clerics be prosecuted if they did not report sexual abuse revealed to them during confession. He also said the Church should consider making celibacy voluntary.

(Compiled by Richard Lough; edited by Andrew Heavens)

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