BACK in March of this year, Jean-Marc Sauvé, above, President of the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church (CIASE), revealed that, since 1950, “at least” 10,000 children and vulnerable adults had fallen prey to abusive Catholic priests and others within the church’s hierarchy.
At the time, the Catholic News Agency reported that Sauvé, head of the commission, said that the body’s previous estimate of 3,000 victims was inaccurate because of the huge number of people who came forward with allegations of abuse after CIASE was set up by Catholic Church in France.
The commission received testimonies from June 2019 through October 2020, during which time it identified approximately 3,000 victims, but Sauvé said:
This certainly does not take account of the totality.
Sauvé said that most of the events reported to CIASE took place in the 1950s and 1960s, and the abuse primarily happened in schools, followed by catechism classes, and youth movements or summer camps.
Thirty percent of the victims who contacted the commission are over 70 years old and 50 percent are between 50 and 69 years old.
CIASE is looking not only at clerical sexual abuse of minors but also clerical abuse of vulnerable adults. Of the abuse accounts received, however, 87 percent were committed against minors.
Among young adult victims, 33 percent were members of religious communities or seminarians at the time of the abuse.
We can say with a high degree of certainty that within the Catholic Church, the abuses mainly concerned men and not women, unlike society.
According to France 24, The commission’s report is due to be released on Tuesday, October 5, following a probe lasting two-and-a-half years.
The report, which Sauvé says runs to 2,500 pages, will attempt to quantify both the number of offenders and the number of victims.
It will also look into “the mechanisms, notably institutional and cultural ones” within the church which allowed paedophiles to remain, and will offer 45 proposals.
The commission was set up in 2018 by the French Catholic Church in response to a number of scandals that shook the Church in France and worldwide.
Its formation also came after Pope Francis passed a landmark measure obliging those who know about sex abuse in the Catholic Church to report it to their superiors.
Made up of 22 legal professionals, doctors, historians, sociologists and theologians, its brief was to investigate allegations of child sex abuse by clerics dating back to the 1950s.
When it began its work it called for witness statements and set up a telephone hotline, then reported receiving thousands of messages in the months that followed.
Sauvé declined to provide an update on the number of priests and church officials who are believed to have perpetrated the abuse. The last estimate was that 1,500 had been guilty of abusive behaviour.
In 2019, the Pope’s former Ambassador to France, ex-Papal Nuncio Luigi Ventura, above, was tried for sexually assaulting five young men, including a Paris City Hall official. One of the complainants’ lawyers suggested that the charges represented “the tip of the iceberg.”
Ventura, who fled France to return to the Vatican, was found guilty and was given an eight-month suspended prison sentence, even less than the derisorily lenient ten months’ suspended sentence recommended by the prosecutor.
However, four victims received €13,000 damages – a fraction of the maximum possible.
Hat tip: John Dowdle