According to a damning report, members of the Catholic clergy in France sexually abused an estimated 216,000 minors over the past seven decades. The report found that between 2,900 and 3,200 abusers were estimated to have worked in the French Catholic Church between 1950 and 2020, out of a total of 115,000 priests and other clerics.
"The Catholic Church is the place where the prevalence of sexual violence is at its highest, other than in family and friend circles," said the report, which found that children were also more likely to abuse within Church settings than in state-run schools or summer camps.
Jean-Marc Sauvé, the president of the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church (CIASE) which authored the report, said the abuse was systemic and not limited to "a few black sheep that strayed from the flock."
François Devaux, head of the abuse victims' group La Parole Libérée, told Church representatives they were "a disgrace to humanity" at the news conference.
"You must all pay for these crimes," Devaux told the clergymen, slowly enunciating each word before repeating the phrase again. "In this hell, there have been atrocious crimes committed for decades ... there was a betrayal: betrayal of trust, betrayal of morality, betrayal of children, betrayal of innocence of your own people, betrayal of the gospel, betrayal of the original message, betrayal of everything."