French Catholic Church to offer ‘financial contribution’ to paedophilia victims

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Bishop of Arras and Vice-President of the CEF (Conference Episcopale de France) Olivier Leborgne takes part in a press conference at the end of the Spring Plenary Assembly of the Bishops of France on ecology and the fight against paedophilia on March 26, 2021 in Notre-Dame de Lourdes. — AFP pic
Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Bishop of Arras and Vice-President of the CEF (Conference Episcopale de France) Olivier Leborgne takes part in a press conference at the end of the Spring Plenary Assembly of the Bishops of France on ecology and the fight against paedophilia on March 26, 2021 in Notre-Dame de Lourdes. — AFP pic

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PARIS, March 26 — The French Catholic Church will offer a “financial contribution” to the thousands of victims of child sex abuse by priests in the country since the 1950s, bishops agreed today.

The Church wants to “recognise its responsibility to society by asking forgiveness for these crimes and shortcomings,” the bishops announced after a gathering in the southern city of Lourdes.

The Bishops’ Conference of France agreed in November 2018 to set up an investigative commission after huge and repeated child abuse scandals shook the Catholic Church at home and abroad.

Jean-Marc Sauve, a senior French civil servant who heads the commission, said earlier this month that there might have been at least 10,000 paedophilia victims since 1950, based on calls to a hotline set up for victims and witnesses.

Bishops have determined the need to take responsibility “with regards to the past, the present and the future, Monseignor Olivier Leborgne, a vice-president of the Bishops’ Conference, said at a video press conference Friday.

He suggested the compensation would be a lump sum financed by a dedicated endowment, with an independent advisory panel set up to study requests and decide on the amounts based on “the amount of the funds.”

But the Church said the payments “are neither a compensation nor a reparation,” Monsignor Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, the conference’s president, told the video conference. — AFP

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