The public penance seeking took place a day after France bishops finally formally accepted that the Catholic Church bore "institutional responsibility" in many thousand child abuses that took place over decades. The accountability harked back to the 1950s, affecting some 3 lakh minors. The incidents came to the forefront after an independent report was released last month (October 2021), which spoke of the "veil of silence" spread over the scandal. The report also claimed that the crimes were covered up in a "systematic way" by the church, The Guardian reported.
Calling the report shameful and horrific, French top bishop, Eric de Moulins-Beaufort directed church priests to inform police of any child abuse cases heard of during sacrament confessions. He also asserted that henceforth, the church's laws of Republic will be held above "secrecy of confessions, in a way that it creates a free space for speaking before God." The decision came after French interior minister, Gerald Darmanin, reprimanded Archbishop Beaufort for claiming that secrecy of catholic confessions was above republic laws. The spokesperson for the French Government, Gabriel Attal, had also called out the church echoing Darmamin's statements. “Nothing takes precedence over the laws of the Republic in our country,” Attal had said, as per the Guardian.