► 330,000 victims, “systemic aspect”: the revelations of the Sauvé report
330,000 victims in the Church, including 216,000 people abused by priests, deacons, men and women religious. This is the estimate produced thanks to a study by Inserm and Ifop and unveiled by Jean-Marc Sauvé during the presentation of the Ciase report. A survey which also shows that there is more abuse committed within the Church than in other institutions such as National Education or sports federations. The report also shows that abuses are “Systemic” and do not belong to the past. “The problem remains”, said Jean-Marc Sauvé.
→ IN DETAILS. Sexual Abuse in the Church: What to Remember from the Sauvé Report
→ SUMMARY. Figures, recommendations, repairs… The Sauvé report in 5 key points
→ TESTIMONIALS. Sexual abuse in the Church: the word is only beginning to be released
► The secret of confession at the heart of the debates
The publication of the Sauvé report raised many questions, including that of the lifting of confessional secrecy. In its 45 recommendations, the Ciase believes that the Church must authorize a priest to whom a victim confides an abuse in confession to report it to justice. For Bishop Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, President of the Conference of Bishops of France (CEF), “The secrecy of confession is imposed on us and, in this sense, is stronger than the laws of the Republic. “ One way to reaffirm that the episcopate does not intend to compromise on the secrecy of confession, even to protect minors from sexual violence.
→ EXPLANATION. Sexual abuse: is the secrecy of confession “stronger than the laws of the Republic”?
→ DEBATE. Sexual abuse: should the secrecy of confession be lifted in the event of assault on minors?
► Reparation, an essential step in the reconstruction of victims
For the victims, it is now time for reparation. This can be both judicial and psychological, thanks to the recognition and management of the trauma resulting from sexual violence. There is also the question of financial reparation, which would allow the Church to assume its responsibility. The method of financing remains to be determined, however: while the Ciase recommends not to appeal for donations from the faithful, the episcopate has considered the possibility of religious communities contributing to the compensation of victims.
→ EXPLANATION. Sexual abuse: what responsibility for the Church?
→ ANALYSIS. Sexual violence: repairing the victims, beyond the financial question
→ DEBATE. Sexual Abuse: Should Catholics Help Compensation for Victims?
→ ANALYSIS. Sexual abuse, what gestures of the Church to recognize the suffering of the victims?
► In shock, the Catholic community is mobilized
Since the publication of the Sauvé report, the Catholic community has been crossed by multiple emotions, between anger, the desire for change, denial or depression. Some fear nothing will change, like Catholic influencers, who have launched a Twitter campaign to keep up the pressure.
Others fear that the Sauvé report is a pretext to question the Church and the authority of the bishops. A petition launched by the co-founder of the association of victims the Liberated Word François Devaux, the theologian Anne Soupa and the editorial director of Christian witness Christine Pedotti, thus called the bishops to the “collective resignation”.
→ INVESTIGATION. Sauvé report, the Catholic community still in shock
→ ANALYSIS. Sauvé report: “Catholic influencers” mobilize to maintain the pressure
→ THE FACTS. Sexual abuse: the bishops of France called for “collective resignation”
► The bottom line of an independent and multidisciplinary commission
Wanted by the Conference of Bishops of France, the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church (Ciase) was created in 2018 with the mission of studying and revealing the extent of abuses committed within the Church on minors and vulnerable adults since mid-twentieth centurye century.
Completely independent, it was set up by Jean-Marc Sauvé, former vice-president of the Council of State, who selected experts in various fields: health, justice, theology … During its work, it was able to hear 250 victims abuse. Its report was revealed on October 5, 2021. It has 485 pages as well as 2,500 pages of appendices.
→ READ. Sexual Abuse in the Church: Reactions After Delivery of the Sauvé Report
→ DECRYPTION. Role, members, functioning… What you need to know about Ciase
► For the members of the Ciase, a trying confrontation with the horror of the abuses
Volunteers, the 22 members of the Ciase were confronted for hundreds of hours with the testimonies of the victims, sometimes abused more than half a century ago. All come out very marked, and sometimes even changed. They say in particular that they were struck by the persistence of the consequences of these attacks in the emotional and sexual life of the victims, and sometimes even in their desire to become a parent. Among the Catholic members of the Commission, the outlook of some on the Church has evolved to call for profound changes and many have been jostled in their faith.
→ STORY. Sexual abuse: the distressing journey of the members of the Sauvé Commission
→ MAINTENANCE. Jean-Marc Sauvé: “We were confronted with the mystery of evil”
► Painstaking work and a real scientific contribution
Beyond direct testimonies, the commission chaired by Jean-Marc Sauvé relied on the archives of dioceses and congregations. Identified thanks to the preliminary questionnaire sent to all these structures, the most interesting archives have been the subject of in-depth investigations. Several members of the commission went to cellars and attics and searched storage boxes, the contents of which archivists were sometimes unaware of. An exploration made possible by the lifting of the pontifical secret with regard to “Sexual violence committed by priests”, decided by Pope Francis in 2019. Thousands of ecclesial documents were thus studied, to which are added judicial or police archives.
→ INVESTIGATION. Church records also tell of decades of sexual abuse
→ ANALYSIS. The Sauvé commission, a breakthrough in research on pedophilia
► From Poland to Ireland, commissions on abuse with very disparate results
Launched in France in 2018, the commission on sexual abuse in the Church was preceded by other initiatives, since the 1990s, around the world. The most comprehensive reports produced on the subject, in Ireland and Australia, have been initiated by governments and have focused on many institutions, including the Church. For Ciase, the John Jay report published in 2002 in the United States is a model of independence and multidisciplinarity, and its results have been very concrete: more than 250 priests have been condemned following its revelations. In Poland, on the contrary, an investigation carried out directly by the episcopate was judged to be very insufficient by the victims’ associations.
→ TOUR OF THE HORIZON. Sexual abuse in the Church: investigations abroad are increasing
► From Italy to the DRC, the taboo of abuse is not broken
The Sauvé report should shed a harsh light on a phenomenon which is less and less contested in France. Elsewhere in the world, this recognition is not as advanced. From Italy to the Democratic Republic of Congo, the few media facts are considered marginal. The priest and psychotherapist Stéphane Joulain explains that it is particularly difficult to attack an institution like the Church when it remains central in the social life of a country.
→ MAINTENANCE. “In many countries, we do not want to dirty the Church”