The purpose of the report is to establish facts and provide an understanding of what happened to prevent “such tragedies” from occurring in the future. But the report is not intended to establish “personal responsibility,” according to the commission’s website.
The commission – made up of 21 people – was set up in 2018 after scandals of abuse by the French Catholic Church hierarchy and religious institutions surfaced.
It is financed by the French Catholic Bishops’ Conference, but members are not paid and do not receive instruction from the Church. The archives of the diocese and religious institutions were accessible to the commission.
Sauve said creating the commission was an important step toward addressing “this secret and hideous side of our society” and that “an enormous amount of work” had been put into producing the report over the past 32 months.
“We worked a lot with victims, and we didn’t assign research labs to listen to all victims. Of course, research labs did some hearings, but we did a large number of hearings ourselves,” Sauve said.
Some of the thousands of victims identified were directed towards organizations providing legal, medical and psychological support.
“I went through a season of hell,” Christian Dubreil, a victim who was abused at age 11, testified before the commission.
“I hope you can get them out of this kind of isolation syndrome, blindness,” Dubreuil said of the French Catholic Church.
“They’re still denial, contempt and downplaying issues.”
The commission was set up in May 2019 before Pope Francis issued an edict that established new rules for reporting sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, mandating for the first time that all diocese abuse and abuse Set up a system to report cover-ups.
CNN has reached out to the French Catholic Church for comment.
‘Waiting for this for years’
Reports of sexual abuse in the French Catholic Church – set to be published on Tuesday – “will change everything,” Catherine Dale, communications chief for France’s Conference of Bishops (CEF), told CNN on Sunday.
“This is a very important moment for those who have been abused. It is a momentous moment for the Church in France. Jean-Marc Sauve has done a remarkable job,” she said.
Church officials sent a message to be read in every parish of the country during Sunday Mass. It said the publication of Tuesday’s report would be a “test of the truth and a difficult and grim moment.”
“Pedophilia belongs to all of us. I invite you all to take an attitude of truth and compassion in relation to this report,” it continues.
Olivier Savignac, who runs a victim group called Parlor and Reviver, said the release of the report would be “a cyclone, a tsunami, a hurricane”.
“This report will show the collective responsibility of the church,” he said. “We will eventually have data on the scale of abuse, collected scientifically. We’ve been waiting for this for years.”
The Catholic Church in France has taken several steps in recent years to tackle the menace of sexual abuse. In 2019, the Diocese of Paris signed a protocol with the city’s prosecutor to allow victims to investigate suspected abuse without making an official complaint to authorities.
In March this year, the church voted in favor of 11 resolutions to tackle the problem, including: the establishment of a council “for the prevention and fight against pedophilia” and for financial “contributions” to the victims.
Savignac acknowledged that the security measures made it harder for abuse, but told CNN that “the battle is not over.”
“It is important to see justice for the victims. Nine out of 10 people cannot get justice because the statute of limitations has passed or the perpetrator has died,” he said.
“There has always been a collusion between the Church and the Vatican in France to protect the abusers. The Church has been very generous in obeying God’s word and caring for the smallest and most vulnerable.”