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Pope Francis, Vatican express 'shame' at scale of clergy abuse in France

Pope Francis
Posted at 5:00 AM, Oct 06, 2021

Pope Francis has expressed "shame" for himself and the Roman Catholic Church for the scale of child sexual abuse within the church in France.

During his Wednesday regular audience at the Vatican, the pope spoke about a report released a day earlier that estimated some 330,000 French children were abused by clergy and other church authority — including lay people working for Catholic schools — dating back to 1950.

The BBC reports that the church in France found that the "vast majority" of victims were boys aged 10 and 13. It also found that in addition to failing to protect children, the church often knowingly put kids in contact with predators.

Through the 2000s, authorities say the church showed "deep, total and even cruel indifference" towards victims.

On Wednesday, the pope expressed "sadness and pain for the trauma that they suffered" and shame "over the incapacity of the church for too long to put them at the center of its concerns."

The pope also expressed his "closeness and paternal support" to French priests in the face of a "difficult test."

According to the BBC, Francis first learned of the report while visiting with French bishops in recent days.

"(Francis') first thoughts are for the victims, with a deep sadness for their wounds and gratitude for their courage in coming forward," a statement from the Vatican read. "His thoughts also turn to the Church in France, and that, in recognizing these terrible events and united by the suffering of the Lord for his most vulnerable children, it can take the path of redemption."