Pope Francis 'Sad' Over Child Abuse of More Than 200,000 Children by France's Catholic Church
An independent investigation by French Catholic bishops has found cases of abuse dating back to 1950, with more than half taking place between 1950 and 1970.
Pope Francis has expressed his "sadness" and "pain" following the release of a report on sexual abuse of minors by members and affiliates of the French Catholic Church.
“I would like to express my sadness, my pain for the trauma that they have endured; and also, my shame for that for so long the Church has been incapable to put this at the center of its concerns,” Pope Francis said during one of his General Audiences.
"I pray and we all pray together -- to you Lord the glory, to us the shame. This is the time for shame," Pope Francis said.
He urged against the situation repeating itself and offered support to French priests to face up to "this trial that is hard but healthy".
He called for the French Catholic community to ensure that "the Church is a safe home for all".
The report said that more than 3,000 priests and other clergy were involved in the abuse. Among the findings was cases of nuns using crucifixes to rape girls. The majority of abuse cases reported by the investigation involved boys aged between 10 and 13.
The independent commission chief Jean-Marc Sauve told the press that "until the early 2000s, the Catholic Church showed a profound and even cruel indifference towards the victims."
Archbishop Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, president of the Bishops' Conference of France (CEF), which co-requested the report, asked for forgiveness during a press conference, as he expressed his "shame and horror" at the findings.