At least 330,000 children are believed to have been sexually abused by a member of the clergy and people connected to the church over the last 70 years. At least 80 percent of them are male. There are likely to be many more victims who have not come forward, or who have since died. These shocking findings were released in a bombshell report last October, which was the first major investigation of abuse and pedophilia in the French Catholic Church.
Bombshell Report into Sexual Abuse in the French Catholic Church
Researchers spent more than two years talking to victims and studying documents from church archives, courts, and police records. The commission behind the report was set up after Pope Francis ordered those who knew about the abuse to report it to their superiors. Researchers found that there were at least 3,200 pedophile priests in the church between 1950 and 2020, and many victims were dismissed or seen as being partly responsible for what happened. Many of the perpetrators are still alive, but some of the crimes were deemed too old to prosecute.
The Munich Report
Even more shockingly, ex-Pope Benedict XVI has been accused of failing to take action against priests accused of pedophilia. Benedict was directly implicated in four cases involving clergy abuse while he was the archbishop of Munich and Freising. The Munich report commissioned by the German Catholic Church found he had not done anything when the cases were brought to his attention. Instead, the clergy involved were allowed to carry on with their pastoral duties, even though the abuse was proven to have taken place in two of the cases.
One case involved notorious pedophile priest, Peter Hullermann, who was transferred to Munich after being accused of sexually abusing a boy in Essen. Despite the fact he had been clearly implicated in a sexual abuse case, he was able to carry on abusing boys for many more years.
Many priests were allowed to continue attending their congregations while they underwent therapy, but this didn’t prevent them from committing more sexual attacks against minors.
Between 1945 and 2019, 173 priests in Munich were implicated in abuse allegations, with 235 reported victims. Ex-Pope Benedict finally stepped down from his role of head of the Catholic church in 2013, and he currently lives in seclusion.
Current Archbishop of Munich Named and Shamed
Another high-ranking priest, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who is the current archbishop of Munich, was also named in the report and accused of failing to act when informed of two suspected clergy abuse cases. He later offered to resign but Pope Frances refused to accept his resignation.
Critics of the Catholic Church have accused the church of trying to hide behind an “edifice of lies”. They say top church officials have consistently mishandled abuse allegations and have done everything in their power to ignore what was happening. The scandal has had a disastrous impact on the Catholic Church, and membership is down by some 2.5 million since the scandal first broke in the media back in 2010. Attorneys like Romanucci and Blandin are experienced in clergy abuse cases, and this is something they predicted.
Campaigners are calling for more compensation instead of meaningless apologies.