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Photo by Alicia Quan on Unsplash
Photo by Alicia Quan on Unsplash
World News

Payout announced for nearly 500 victims of Church sexual abuse in France

by Lydia Davies

France’s Catholic Church has initiated a reparations programme, compensating hundreds of victims of child sexual abuse by priests or church representatives, according to an announcement by an independent overseeing body. 

On Thursday, Marie Derain de Vaucresson, the head of the Independent National Authority for Recognition and Reparation, revealed that 1,351 victims have come forward seeking financial compensation and psychological support.  

The average age of these victims is 61, with 66 per cent being men and 34 per cent women. The claims process began in 2022. 

To date, the reparations authority has approved compensation claims for 489 victims, with 88 individuals receiving the maximum compensation of 60,000 euros (£51,000).  

Last year alone, 358 victims were granted compensation, averaging 35,310 euros (£30,158) per person. 

The decision to provide reparations followed a 2021 report estimating that over 70 years, approximately 330,000 children were sexually abused by clergy or church-affiliated individuals in France.  

This revelation highlighted a "systemic" cover-up by church officials and urged the French Catholic Church to respect French law. 

Most reported cases involved "very serious" crimes, including repeated rape. 

In 39 per cent of cases, abuse persisted for over a year, while in 12 per cent of cases, victims were psychologically manipulated for up to five years after the assaults.  

Victims were aged between six and 15 at the time of abuse. 

Alongside financial compensation, victims will also receive non-financial support, including assistance in documenting their experiences, meetings with local church representatives, or the installation of commemorative plaques. 

Presently, 780 victims have received assistance from the authority. 

Support will extend to aiding victims in writing letters to deceased abusers or reconciling strained relationships with family members.  

The assistance often entails providing a safe space for victims, many of whom are now in their 60s, 70s, or 80s, to finally share their stories after years of silence. 

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