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Survivor tells of “tsunami” of victims ahead of report on French Catholic Church By Reuters


© Reuters. Olivier Savignac is the president of “Parler et Revivre”, a group that was sexually abused by a priest at 13 years old. A court has now found him guilty. REUTERS/Noemie Olive

By Tangi Salaün

PARIS (Reuters) – A French report about sex abuse perpetrated by Roman Catholic priests in France will say that approximately 216,000 people have died since 1950. One survivor contributed to this dossier, which was published on Tuesday.

Over the course of two-and-half years, an independent commission investigated sexual abuses in the Catholic church in this country during the past seventy decades. The commission will present their findings at 9:00 AM (0700 GMT).

In the run-up to the release of its findings, Commission head Jean-Marc Sauve said about 3,000 paedophile priests and clerics abused minors over the period, and called that number a conservative estimate.

Olivier Savignac (13 years old) was sexually abused in 1993 by a priest. He stated that victims should be compensated.

Savignac stated to Reuters: “We can clearly see how systemic it… with an estimated 216,000 victims.” He quoted the report and said that the Church couldn’t have overlooked something as large.

Savignac stated, “It’s an earthquake. A hurricane. A tsunami…. When you look at these numbers it’s so shocking that no-one can deny the fact that there was a disaster.” He also established Parler et Revivre (Speak and Live again) as a victim’s association.

Reuters was not given the report prior to its publication, and therefore could not verify its contents. The Church spokesperson said that they will not comment on the report before publication. It was not possible to reach the independent commission for comment.

According to a Vatican spokesperson, the Vatican will wait to see the entire report before making a decision on comment.


At the close of 2018, the French Catholic Bishops established the commission to investigate abuses and restore faith in the Church in a period of shrinking congregations. The commission has been independent of the Church.

Savignac was sexually abused as a teenager by an adult French judge two years back. But that was an exception, he claimed, stressing the difficulty for young Catholics in speaking up to accuse Church representatives.

Savignac stated that “what we expect from God is an answer to what the people have endured.” He said it couldn’t just be spending a few thousand euro and saying it was over. Not at all. Each person deserves compensation.

In March, the French Church stated that it would offer financial assistance to victims.

French Church scandal is latest in a string of scandals that have engulfed the Roman Catholic Church. This church has seen many sexual abuse scandals, most often with children, throughout the 20-year history.

Pope Francis stated that June’s Catholic Church sexual abuse crisis was a global “catastrophe”.

A prayer was posted by the French Catholic Church on Sunday on Twitter, expressing solidarity with victims.

“Dear Lord – we entrust to you all those who have been victims of violence and sexual attacks in the Church. It prayed that it would always be able count on you support during these trials,” the Twitter account wrote.

Francis, since his election 2013, has taken several steps to end the sexual abuse of minors perpetrated by clergymen.

In this most significant revision of Catholic Church Law in 40 decades, he demanded that the bishops take legal action against priests who abuse minors or vulnerable adults. Critics claim he is not doing enough.