A independent commission established by French bishops released a 2,500 page report on clerical sexual abuse today after a 2.5 year investigation.
According to the Vatican, that report “revealed that an estimated total of 330,000 people in France have been victims of sexual abuse within Church as children, and that between 2,900 and 3,200 priests and religious committed these crimes over a period of seventy years.”
Pope Francis learned “with pain” of the report during the French bishops ad limina visit to Rome.
The Holy See Press Office said in a statement Pope Francis’s thoughts and prayers “go first of all to the victims and their wounds.”
The statement also said Pope Francis is grateful for “their courage to speak out” and for “turning to the Church of France, so that, having become aware of this appalling reality and united to the suffering of the Lord for her most vulnerable children, she may take the path of redemption.”
“By his prayers the Pope entrusts the People of God who are in France, especially the victims, to the Lord so that He may grant them comfort and consolation and the miracle of healing, with justice.”
The president of the commission, Jean-Marc Sauvé, presented the report on livestream, which indicates “more than a third of sexual assaults within the Catholic Church were committed, not by clergy or monks, but by lay people.”
The reports calls on the Church to pursue “vigorous actions,” making 45 specific recommendations. These recommendations include background checks for Church employees working with children, a support system for victims, liturgical events highlighting the impact of abuse, and other measures like “a physical space between the priest and the penitent during confession.”
“The Church can and must do everything to restore what has been damaged and rebuild what has been broken.”
A summary of the report from the commission can be read here.