Symbol image abuse in the church © Clearviewstock (shutterstock)
The commission to investigate sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in France has received two thousand calls, emails and letters in the first three months. Fifteen cases of them have been handed over to the public prosecutor's office.
"All these testimonies reveal a lot of suffering and great distress," the commission's chairman, Jean-Marc Sauve, said in Paris on Friday, according to French media reports. He was impressed by the willingness of victims to tell their stories, Sauve said.
Two-thirds are men, he says
The commission, which began its work in February, is to investigate cases of abuse and how church authorities have dealt with them since 1950. Most of the people who contacted the commission were over 50 years old, he said. Two-thirds are men, he said. 650 people had agreed to answer a detailed questionnaire. A total of 16 victims had already been heard by the commission. 15 cases had been passed on to prosecutors because the offenses were not yet time-barred, he said.
According to the media reports, the requests for contact came mainly from the metropolitan areas of Paris, Lyon, Marseille and the departments from the north and west. "Many victims have not necessarily broken with the Catholic Church, but there is a sense of betrayal of the teachings of the Church and the Gospel," Sauve said.
Contact with the commission still until June 2020
Alleged victims of abuse in France can still report to the commission until June 2020. It is then to present its report at the end of 2020. The commission has a total of 22 members. They have between 3 and 3.5 million euros at their disposal.