a report on the extent of child crime in the Church will be published – RT in French

Between 2,900 and 3,200 pedophiles in the Church of France in 70 years: this is one of the first findings of the Independent Commission on Child Crime in the Catholic Church, whose verdict to come is unprecedented and eagerly awaited.

After two and a half years of work, the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church of France (Ciase) since 1950, chaired by Jean-Marc Sauvé, will unveil its report and its numerous annexes on October 5.

It will be publicly delivered to the Conference of Bishops of France (CEF) and to the Conference of Religious of Institutes and Congregations (Corref), which had ordered it. This will take place during a press conference to which representatives of victims’ associations have been invited.

“It will be an explosion,” assures AFP a member of Ciase, on condition of anonymity. “It will have the effect of a bomb”, adds Olivier Savignac, of the collective Parler et revivre. “He will not be complacent,” assures sociologist Philippe Portier, another member of the commission. Bishop Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, the president of the CEF, said he feared that the report “would make considerable and frightening figures” during a meeting with parishioners from his diocese.

“[Sa publication] is going to be a test of truth and a harsh and serious moment ”, we can also read in the message broadcast by the episcopate in the direction of priests and parishes for weekend masses. A message that calls for “an attitude of truth and compassion”.

Jean-Marc Sauvé has already indicated this October 3 to AFP that the number of predators identified was “2,900 to 3,200”, men – priests or religious -, according to a “minimum estimate”. La Ciase will also assess the number of victims and compare the prevalence of sexual violence in the Church to that identified in other institutions (sports associations, schools, etc.) and in the family circle.

Weight of clericalism? Omerta on these phenomena of influence? The commission will also assess the “mechanisms, particularly institutional and cultural” which may have favored child crime.

In November, Jean-Marc Sauvé had mentioned a “management of these cases which in the past has often been faulty”. He had also judged “extremely serious that there could have been some institutions and some communities, in small number, where systemic abuses could have been committed”.

Repair policy

Once the diagnosis has been made, the Ciase must list 45 proposals which will touch on several areas: listening to victims, prevention, training priests and religious, canon law, transformation of the governance of the Church … It will also recommend a policy of recognition and of repair.

For its work, the Ciase has made the words of the victims “the matrix of its work”, according to Jean-Marc Sauvé. First with a call for testimonies open for 17 months, which collected 6,500 calls or contacts from victims or relatives. Then by carrying out 250 long hearings or research interviews. She also deepened her research by diving into numerous archives (Church, Ministry of Justice, the Interior, press).

In the majority of cases, the facts are now prescribed, the authors deceased, making recourse to justice improbable. Canonical procedures (the law of the Church), when they are initiated, are very long and not very transparent.

What follow-up will the Church give to the report? “I am waiting for us to be confronted with this burden, as dark as it is, so that we can then take the necessary measures”, affirms Véronique Margron, president of Corref.

The episcopate has taken the lead by promising not reparations but a system of financial “contributions”, paid to victims from 2022, which is not unanimous among the victims. The first responses from the French Bishops’ Conference and Corref are expected in November, when the two institutions will meet in plenary assemblies.

The report will be scrutinized in Rome, where the issue was raised by Pope Francis and some of the French bishops visiting the Vatican in September. Sanction of bishops or prelates, visit of the Pope to Ireland, organization of an unprecedented summit in 2019 on “the protection of minors”, modification of canon law: the fight against child crime is a file also dealt with at the Vatican.

Created in the fall of 2018, the Ciase is made up of 22 members, volunteers, with multidisciplinary skills (legal, medical, psychological and psychiatric, social and educational sector, child protection, history and social sciences, theology). It was funded by the episcopate as well as by religious institutes and congregations to the tune of three million euros.

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