The move comes a month after a major report exposed child abuse and church statistics since the 1950s.
The Catholic Church in France has agreed to pay compensation for tens of thousands of victims of clergy-instigated sexual misconduct by the country’s episcopal leader.
Eric de Moulins-Beaufort said in a statement Monday that the church has recognized its “responsibility” and decided to go for a “recognizable and retaliatory process that opens the way for victims to find reconciliation and retaliation”.
This happened when the council of bishops held their annual meeting, just one month after the big event reports exposed the gross sexual abuse of children within the French Catholic Church over the past 70 years.
Published by an independent organization, the study revealed that about 330,000 children were sexually abused during the 1950’s by priests or other churchgoers.
It was the latest shocking blow to the Roman Catholic Church after a spate of worldwide child abuse cases, often during the last 20 years.
Moulins-Beaufort reports: “We were horrified to find that so many people were suffering and still alive.
The bishops acknowledged that the church had a responsibility to provide compensation because the council “strongly objected to that approach” and because “the shameless worshipers were waiting for us,” he said.
Moulins-Beaufort did not elaborate on the amount of compensation and how much the church would pay.
A report published last month described the “systematic” coverage of persecution by the Catholic Church, accusing it of drawing a “cover-up” for the offenses.
It stated that the number of victims was 330,000, including about 216,000 people who were persecuted by priests and other leaders, and the rest by church members as scout leaders and camp counselors. The figures came from a comprehensive study by the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research on child sexual abuse in the country.
The 2,500-page report presented 45 church proposals, including training priests and other pastors, revising legitimate laws – the Vatican’s policy of governing the church – and advocating for the recognition and retribution of compensation.
France is a Roman Catholic country, but it adheres closely to the religion of the people in accordance with the 1905 law separating church and state.