French clergy abused 216,000 children since 1950, new inquiry found

French clergy abused 216,000 children since 1950
Francois Devaux, head of a victims' association, welcomed the release of the damning report. Source: AP
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Daily US Times: A new damning inquiry has found that at least 216,000 children – mostly boys – have been sexually abused by clergy in the French Catholic Church since 1950.

There were at least 2,900-3,200 abusers and the inquiry accused the Church of showing a “cruel indifference towards the victims”, the head of the inquiry said.

A Vatican statement said Pope Francis “felt pain” on hearing about the inquiry’s finding,

It is time the Church reassessed its actions, one of those abused said.

François Devaux, who is also the founder of the La Parole Libérée, an association for the victims, said there had been a “betrayal of trust, betrayal of morale, betrayal of children”.

The number of children abused in the country could rise to 330,000, according to the inquiry, when taking into account abuses committed by lay members of the Church, such as teachers at Catholic schools.

According to Vatican statement, Pope Francis learnt about the report after he met visiting French bishops in the last few days.

The statement reads: “His first thoughts are for the victims, with a deep sadness for their wounds and gratitude for their courage in coming forward.”

The report’s publication follows a number of prosecutions and abuse claims against Catholic Church officials worldwide.

The French Catholic Church commissioned the independent inquiry in 2018. The inquiry spent more than two-and-a-half years combing through court, Church records, police and speaking to victims and witnesses.

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