Paris, 8 November 2021 (dpa/MIA) – The Catholic Church in France is prepared to sell property, liquidate reserves and, if necessary, take on debt to pay damages to people who suffered abuse at the hands of religious officials, church leaders said on Monday.
Donations from churchgoers must not be redirected to help pay for these damages, said Archbishop Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, as a meeting of the French Council of Bishops came to an end.
Church officials have not decided on the amount of damages to be paid out. They hope to speak to prosecutors about pursuing legal charges against those accused of abusing Church positions so they could take advantage of children.
A report released in October stated that about 330,000 children and youths had suffered sexual abuse at the hands of Church officials since the 1950s in France. On Friday, Church officials said they accepted that the Church bore an institutional responsibility for the attacks and said the cycle of abuse had systemic dimensions.
Working groups coordinated by victims and representatives of laypeople are now supposed to investigate the reasons for the sexual violence in the Church. They are also supposed to come up with rules for ways to monitor religious officials to make sure such crimes don’t happen in the future, said the archbishop.
The pope has been asked to send a team of experts, so call visitators, to review the report. To date, several thousand people have contacted the Church to report that they were victims of sexual abuse in the Church.