French PM meets Pope Francis after report finds the devastating child abuse in French Catholic Church
Pope Francis (R) greets bishops during the weekly general audience in the Paul VI Hall, at the Vatican, October 6, 2021. /Reuters

Pope Francis (R) greets bishops during the weekly general audience in the Paul VI Hall, at the Vatican, October 6, 2021. /Reuters

French Prime Minister Jean Castex met with Pope Francis on Monday at the Vatican as the French Catholic Church is battling a storm over "clerical child sex abuse and the sanctity of confession." 

Castex paid a visit to the Vatican and Rome for celebrations which mark the centenary of the restoration of France and the Holy See's diplomatic relations.

They had a 35 minute private talks at the Vatican, according to France 24. The trip to Rome follows the latest abuse scandal to hit the Roman Catholic Church which suggests that clergy in France may have sexually abused children on an unprecedented scale for 70 years – an estimated 216,000 children – until as late as 2016.

The revelations come from an independent inquiry by the Church, which released its findings in a recently released report.

It reports that since the 1950s there have been about 2,900 to 3,200 suspected paedophiles in the French church, and the number of victims may rise to 330,000 people when including abuse by members of the Church who are not clergy. Most of the victims were boys aged between 10 and 13.

Jean-Marc Sauve, who led the investigation, said the findings are damning and that the Church sometimes knowingly putting children in touch with predators.

"This is the moment of shame," Francis said earlier this month at his weekly general audience, calling on bishops to make every efforts to ensure that "similar tragedies do not happen again".

"What's behind the staggering number is that child sexual abuse in the French Catholic Church has evolved into a systemic crime. Out of a total of 115,000 priests and other clerics, as many as 3,200 have committed child sexual abuse, and this was probably an underestimation," Xin Ping, a commentator on international affairs, made the remarks on Global Times on Thursday.

"On this utterly shameful scandal, the French Catholic Church owes a debt to the victims, so does the French government... The whole world is now watching how France will be able to remove the gangrene inside its body and psyche," Xin added.

Read more:

More than 200,000 children in France abused by Catholic priests, report finds

Pope Francis 'saddened' and 'shamed' by extent of child abuse in French Catholic Church

(With input from agencies)

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