Paris – Lawyers for hundreds of thousands of sexual abuse victims of the French Catholic Church are reportedly lining up a damage suit amounting to “several billions of dollars” as retribution for the pain, suffering and humiliation at the hands of priests, nuns, monks and deacons.
This comes on the heels of a 2,500-page report released by an independent commission tasked by French Catholic bishops in 2018 to look into abuses and restore public confidence in the Church at a time of swindling congregations.
The report claimed that some 216,000 children were sexually abused over the past 70 years by French Catholic Church clergy, and the wrongdoings were covered up by officials in a systemic manner to avoid the “shameful secrets” being exposed to the world.
The authors, who alleged that 80 percent of the Church’s victims were boys aged between 10 to 13 years, noted a “cruel indifference” on the part of Church officials for the victims as they were more concerned in saving the reputation of the institution.
The commission worked for over two years listening to victims and witnesses, and studying church, court, police and press records starting from the 1950s.
The president of the Confederation of Bishops of France, Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, said he was appalled by the findings of the report, and asked for the victims’ forgiveness.
In May 2019, Pope Francis signed a law requiring all Catholic priests and nuns around the world to report clergy sexual abuse and cover-ups by their superiors to concerned Church authorities.