330,000 children were victims of sex abuse in Catholic Church in France: Report

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Archbishop of Reims and President of the CEF (Conférence Episcopale de France) Eric de Moulins-Beaufort (R), Bishop of Creteil and Vice-President of the CEF Dominique Blanchet (L) and Bishop of Arras and Vice-President of the CEF Olivier Leborgne, stand after a press conference at the end of the Spring Plenary Assembly of the Bishops of France on March 26, 2021 in Notre-Dame de Lourdes, during an assembly on ecology and the fight against paedophilia. (Photo by GEORGES GOBET / AFP) (Photo by GEORGES GOBET/AFP via Getty Images)

PARIS (AP) — The head of France’s Catholic bishops conference is asking forgiveness from the estimated 330,000 victims of child sex abuse by the church found in a groundbreaking report.

The report was released Tuesday after extensive research in France’s first major reckoning with the issue.

The President of the Conference of Bishops of France, Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, said Tuesday “we are appalled” at the conclusions of the report and the numbers of victims.

“Their voices are shaking us, their numbers afflict us,” he said.

“I wish on that day to ask for pardon, pardon to each of you,” he told the victims.

The commission that compiled the report urged compensation for victims and strong action from the church.

The 2,500-page document prepared by an independent commission comes as the Catholic Church in France, like in other countries, seeks to face up to shameful secrets that were long covered up.

The report says an estimated 3,000 child abusers — two-thirds of them priests — worked in the church during that period.

The commission worked for 2 1/2 years, listening to victims and witnesses and studying church, court, police and press archives starting from the 1950s. A hotline launched at the beginning of the probe received 6,500 calls from alleged victims or people who said they knew a victim.

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