TODAY |

French Catholic church covered up abuse of children

More than 200,000 minors — mostly boys — have been sexually abused by clergy in the Roman Catholic Church in France over the past 70 years, a damning new inquiry has found.

Catholic crucifix. Source: istock.com

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

The report also laid out in detail how the church hierarchy had repeatedly silenced the victims and failed to report or discipline the clergy members involved.

"The church failed to see or hear, failed to pick up on the weak signals, failed to take the rigorous measures that were necessary", Jean-Marc Sauve, the commission president, said at a news conference in Paris.

He added, for years the church showed a "deep, total and even cruel indifference toward victims".

Sauve worked more than two-and-a half years on the inquiry, listening to victims, witnesses, studying the church and combing through court, police and press archives starting from the 1950s.

Church officials have been notified of more than 40 cases that are too old to be prosecuted but involve alleged perpetrators who are still alive.

This scandal is the latest to hit the Roman Catholic Church, which has been rocked by sexual abuse scandals around the world, often involving children.