Report Estimates French Catholic Church Employed 3,000 Pedophiles Since 1950s: 'Hideous'

The French Catholic Church has had an estimated 3,000 pedophiles in its clergy since the 1950s, the head of an independent commission investigating sexual abuse said Sunday.

Jean-Marc Sauve revealed that the commission identified thousands of pedophiles out of 115,000 clergy members over the past 70 years. Among those 3,000 people, two-thirds are allegedly diocesan priests.

"We had to cross historical, sociological, medical and psychiatric perspectives. We had to call upon skills in the area of child protection, social work, questions of abuse and also bring to bear skills in the area of theology and law," Sauvé told CNN on Sunday.

The commission has been investigating sexual abuse within the French church for two and a half years and will publish their full findings in a report on Tuesday. The group is comprised of 21 people and was set up in 2018 by the French Catholic Church hierarchy to investigate abuses.

Sauvé said that creating the commission was an important step toward addressing "this secret and hideous side of our society" and that an "enormous amount of work" has gone into building the report.

Jean-Marc Sauve, French Catholic Church Sex Abuse
An independent commission has found that over 3,000 pedophiles have been members of the French Catholic Church clergy since the 1950s. Chairman of the independent commission of inquiry into the sexual abuse of minors committed within the Catholic Church, Jean-Marc Sauve, poses during a photo session in Paris on September 28, 2021. JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images

"We worked a lot with the victims, and we did not delegate the task of listening to all the victims to research laboratories. Of course, the research laboratories did some of the hearings, but we conducted a large number of hearings ourselves," Sauvé said. He did not offer an estimate on the number of sex abuse victims but said the Tuesday report will include a new figure.

In a separate interview with the Journal du Dimanche newspaper, Sauvé said the report found that the level of abuse was specifically bad from 1950 to 1970.

"From 1950 to 1970, the church is completely indifferent to the victims: They don't exist, the suffering inflicted on children is ignored. The periods that followed were different," Sauvé told the newspaper. "Our objective is to furnish a concrete diagnosis of all the abuses, to identify the causes and draw all of the consequences," he added.

Seigneur,

Nous te confions toutes les personnes qui ont subi des violences et agressions sexuelles dans l’Eglise : que dans les épreuves elles puissent toujours compter sur ton appui et notre soutien.

— Église Catholique (@Eglisecatho) October 3, 2021

On Sunday, the French Catholic Church posted a prayer for victims on its official Twitter account and added it would also hold a prayer on the day of the publication of the full report.

"Lord, We entrust to you all the people who have suffered violence and sexual assault in the Church: may they always count on your support and our support in times of trial," it wrote.

Sauvé said that 22 sexual abuse cases have so far been forwarded to prosecutors for alleged crimes that can still be pursued. Over 40 cases of alleged crimes that are too old to be prosecuted but that involve clergy members who are still alive have been forwarded to church officials, the Associated Press reported.

In 2019, the French Bishops Conference agreed to award financial compensation to victims whose cases fall outside of the country's statute of limitations. On Sunday, it was unclear how many of those cases could be included in the new report, or what the level of compensation for victims would be.