At least 3,000 children have fallen victim to sex abuse in the French Catholic Church since 1950, the president of a commission set up to investigate the claims said. Jean-Marc Sauve said preliminary figures suggested some 1,500 clergy and other Church officials carried out the abuse.
According to the reports
, the commission was set up last June (Yr. 2019) at the request of French bishops after a series of pedophilia cases that rocked the Church in France and abroad. A hotline urging victims to come forward has received 5,300 calls over the past year, Sauve said.
The number of estimated victims represents more than 40 cases per year on average, over the past seven decades. The commission headed by Sauve, a high-ranking civil servant, includes legal experts, doctors, historians, sociologists and theologians. It is expected to produce a final report next year with recommendations on how to prevent abuse.
In the most recent high-profile case, a defrocked Catholic priest was given a five-year jail term in March for sexually abusing boy scouts in his care several decades ago.
Bernard Preynat, 75, had confessed at his trial in the southeastern city of Lyon to "caresses" he knew were forbidden after victims testified of the abuses they suffered at his hands.
He faulted the Church hierarchy, saying "They should have helped me... They let me become a priest."
The scandal became the subject of an acclaimed film last year titled "Grace a Dieu" (By the Grace of God) by director Francois Ozon, who worked with some of the Church abuse victims.
By the 1990s, the sexual abuse cases in the Churches began to receive significant media and public attention in countries including in Canada, United States, Chile, Australia and Ireland, and much of Europe.
In 2014, the Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the United Nations, Silvano Maria Tomasi, appeared before the Committee against Torture and reported that during the previous ten years, 3420 cases of abuse against minors had been investigated and 884 priests had been removed from their positions and reduced to lay status.
In a 2001 apology, John Paul II called sexual abuse within the Church "a profound contradiction of the teaching and witness of Jesus Christ"
In India also, dozens of cases of child sexual abuse by Church priests reported. There are endless stories of exploitation, emotional abuse, illegal trafficking and mysterious deaths surrounding churches. In a rather shocking incident in Hyderabad
in 2016, a pastor was arrested for forcing the children under his care to beg on the streets. Rape and exploitation of adult women is another frequent trait too.