French bishops said on Friday they accepted the Catholic Church bore “institutional responsibility” in the thousands of child abuse cases documented in a shock report.
At its annual meeting, the Bishops’ Conference also acknowledged that the church was guilty of letting the abuses become “systemic,” conference president Eric de Moulins-Beaufort said, a month after the report detailed the abuse of 216,000 minors over seven decades.
On October 5, an independent commission examining the abuses committed between 1950 and 2020, described them as a “mass phenomenon” covered for decades by a “veil of silence”.
The nearly 2,500-page report found that the “vast majority” of the victims were pre-teen boys from various social backgrounds.
De Moulins-Beaufort then expressed his “shame and horror” at the discoveries, while Pope Francis said he felt “great sadness”.
Although their annual meeting was not entirely devoted to responding to the report, the 120 bishops across France have devoted much of their current week-long meeting to “combating violence and sexual assault.” directed against minors ”.
The victims of abuse had called on the bishops to admit that beyond the guilt of the individual abusers, the church itself had been at fault as an institution.
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