“The church failed to see or hear, failed to pick up on the weak signals, failed to take the rigorous measures that were necessary,” Mr. Sauvé said at a news conference in Paris on Tuesday. For years, he said, the church showed a “deep, total and even cruel indifference toward victims.”
In 2018, faced with growing criticism of the church’s handling of sexual abuse scandals, top Roman Catholic authorities in France — the Bishop’s Conference of France and the national congregations conference — asked Mr. Sauvé, a well-respected, high-ranking civil servant, to lead a newly created investigative commission, called the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church.
Victims of abuse by clergy members, as well as experts in the matter, welcomed the report, but said it was too early to tell if the church would act on the commission’s recommendations.
The report followed similar efforts in recent years to disclose or document sexual abuse allegations against Roman Catholic clergy members in Australia, Germany, Ireland, Poland, the United States and other countries as the church continues to grapple with the devastation wrought by sexual abuse scandals over the last quarter-century.
“You are a disgrace for our humanity,” François Devaux, co-founder of a victims association, said at the news conference on Tuesday, directly addressing the many Catholic officials in the auditorium.