French Catholic Academy questions findings of child sex abuse inquiry

Statues representing Saint Jean Baptiste de La Salle are displayed in a Catholic Church in central Paris.
Statues representing Saint Jean Baptiste de La Salle are displayed in a Catholic Church in central Paris. Copyright AP Photo/Francois Mori
By AFP with Euronews
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An October report estimated that 216,000 children have been abused by French clergy since 1950.

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Members of the French Catholic Academy have expressed doubt about a recent report on historical sex abuse in the church.

Eight representatives of the 250-person academy have questioned the findings of the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church (CIASE).

In October, a CIASE report estimated that 330,000 children were victims of sex abuse since 1950 within the church. 

A total of 216,000 children suffered abuse directly by the French clergy, it added.

The inquiry sent shockwaves through the Catholic Church in Europe and led to apologies from French bishops and Pope Francis.

But eight members of the Catholic Academy said CIASE used "flawed methodology" and had "serious shortcomings".

The critics also said the commission had issued "questionable" recommendations to address sexual abuse and stated that "it is up to the Church alone [...] to freely undertake [...] the necessary reforms."

But the academy members did specify that they "intend to show solidarity with the victims" of child sex abuse.

The president of CIASE, Jean-Marc Sauvé has denounced the criticism and said he would respond to the allegations.

"[These] accusations [are] as serious as they are indigent," Sauvé told AFP.

"It is not enough to insinuate and denigrate or to denounce serious biases or ethical and methodological failings," he added.

"What is needed is clarity [...] contradictory debate and, for our detractors, evidence, which implies a necessary work on their part which, in reality, has not really started."

France's Catholic Church has agreed to financially compensate victims of child sex abuse by selling its assets.

Bishops also said they would set up a national body responsible for addressing victims of sexual violence on a case-by-case basis.

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