Since 1950, there have been 2,900 to 3,200 priests and religious in the French Catholic Church who have sexually abused children. Jean-Marc Sauvé, chairman of an independent commission tasked with investigating sexual crimes against children in the church, told AFP. The authority will publish its eagerly awaited final report on Tuesday.
“This is a minimum estimate,” Sauvé said, according to which investigators relied on church, judicial or police archives, as well as personal testimonies. In the last 70 years, a total of about 115,000 priests and religious have passed through the French Catholic Church.
The final report of the independent commission of inquiry will have 2,500 pages with annexes, and the commission has worked on it for two and a half years. The authors sought to map how widespread child sexual abuse was in the church and, in particular, to determine the total number of victims. The report will also compare the level of sexual harassment in the church with other institutions, such as sports clubs, schools, but also in the family environment.
The Commission also assessed “cultural and institutional mechanisms” that could support sexual crimes against children. It will also come up with 45 concrete proposals on how to improve the situation in the church and in other similar institutions.
The National Commission of Inquiry was set up at the instigation of the French Catholic Church in 2018 after a series of revelations of sexual harassment of children in France and also in response to a number of scandals in neighboring countries, notably Germany. The body consists of 22 experts, including lawyers, doctors, historians, sociologists and theologians.