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French report finds 330,000 children were victims of church sex abuse over years

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PARIS (AP) — An estimated 330,000 children were victims of sex abuse within France’s Catholic Church over the past 70 years, according to a report released Thursday that is France’s first major reckoning with the devastating phenomenon.

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,” according to the president of the commission that issued the report, Jean-Marc Sauvé.

The head of the French bishops’ conference asked forgiveness from the victims. The group is meeting Tuesday to discuss next steps.

The commission urged the church to take strong action, denouncing “faults” and “silence.” It also called on the French state to help compensate the victims, notably in cases that are too old to prosecute via the courts.

About 80% of the victims were boys.

“The consequences are very serious,” Sauvé said. “About 60% of men and women who were sexually abused encounter major problems in their sentimental or sexual life.”

The 2,500-page document prepared by an independent commission comes as the Catholic Church in France, like in other countries, seeks to face up to shameful secrets that were long covered up.

Victims welcomed the report as long overdue.

Olivier Savignac, head of victims association “Parler et Revivre” (Speak out and Live again), who contributed to the probe, told The Associated Press that the high ratio of victims per abuser is particularly “terrifying for French society, for the Catholic Church.”

He assailed the church for treating such cases as individual anomalies as opposed to a collective horror. He described being abused at age 13 by........

© The Times of Israel

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