Pope Francis to Meet French Sex Abuse Commission After 330,000 Kids Reportedly Victimized

Pope Francis has agreed to meet with a French commission that released a critical report detailing sexual abuse throughout the French Catholic Church.

While not speaking directly to the press regarding the meeting, Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort told reporters that the Pope had agreed "in principle" to the meeting. Moulins-Beaufort is the current president of the French Bishops Conference.

According to the French report, around 330,000 children were victims of sexual abuse between 1950 to 2020. The perpetrators were said to be clergy members, scout leaders, and various other lay employees affiliated with the French Catholic Church. Bishops have already spoken out about the report and have begun making plans to change the culture of the church out of "institutional responsibility."

The entire 500-page report has not yet been translated into languages other than French. As a result, Pope Francis has not yet read it in its entirety, according to Moulins-Beaufort. However, that did not stop him from expressing support for both the report and the vows of institutional change that it will bring.

"He encouraged us and thanked us," said Moulins-Beaufort.

A date for the meeting has not been set.

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Pope Francis agreed Monday to meet with the commission that published a ground-breaking report into clergy sexual abuse in the French Catholic Church. From left, Monsignor Olivier Leborgne, Bishop of Arras and Vice-President of the French bishops' conference, Monsignor Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, archbishop of Reims and President of the French conference of bishops, and Monsignor Dominique Blanchet, bishop of Creteil, talk to reporters at the end of a press conference, in Rome on December 13. AP Photo/Andrew Medichini

Moulins-Beaufort said he and his fellow bishops also asked Francis if he had anything to add about the sudden resignation of the archbishop of Paris, Monsignor Michel Aupetit.

Francis on December 2 removed Aupetit from the influential post after the 70-year-old Aupetit offered to step down over media reports that he had a sexual relationship with a woman in 2012. Aupetit agreed he had an "ambiguous" relationship but denied it was sexual. French media also said there were governance problems in the archdiocese.

Francis on December 6 said he had accepted the resignation because the "gossip" about Aupetit had made it impossible for him to govern the archdiocese. He said he had accepted the resignation "not on the altar of truth but on the altar of hypocrisy."

The comment raised eyebrows since it implied that Francis was willing to act on mere gossip. It also suggested that Francis blamed some in the French clergy for exposing Aupetit's sins while hiding their own.

Moulins-Beaufort said Francis paid tribute to Aupetit's pastoral efforts and "just told of his sadness from the situation and from the decision he had to make."

Aupetit has lashed out at the French media coverage of his downfall, which in the past week has included an unsubstantiated allegation in the Paris Match tabloid of another inappropriate relationship with a consecrated virgin. During his farewell Mass last week, Aupetit recalled that one headline had said he had "lost himself because of love."

"It's true, it's true," he said to applause from the pews. "The archbishop of Paris lost himself because of love...for Christ."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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According to Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, Pope Francis has agreed to a meeting with a French commission detailing sexual abuse in the French Catholic Church. Francis waves to faithfuls during the traditional blessing of figurines as part of the pope's Sunday Angelus prayer before Christmas in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican on December 12. Photo by Vincenzo Pinto/AFP via Getty Images