File picture of French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin
Will Pope Francis Tackle The Scandals Rocking The Catholic Church? Photo by Jean-Philippe Ksiazek/AFP via Getty Images

An estimated 3,000 or more pedophiles have been found to have been in the ranks of the French Catholic Church in the past 70 years. Set to publish its findings Tuesday, an independent French commission investigating sex abuse scandals in the Church said this was a culmination of their work that took place over a period of two and a half years.

According to Reuters, the investigation probed into allegations of abuse dating all the way back to the 1950’s that often involved children. Commission head Jean-Marc Sauve said the numbers are a minimum estimate, which were based on church archives, court and police records as well as documented interviews with witnesses. The 2,500 page-long report attempts to quantify the number of both offenders and their victims at the same time probe into the mechanisms within the Church that allowed known pedophiles to remain in their positions.

"We have estimated the number (of paedophiles) as standing at 3,000, out of 115,000 priests and religious officials, going back to the 1950s," Sauve told the Journal du Dimanche paper.

The commission is made up of 22 legal professionals along with historians, sociologists, doctors and theologians brought together in 2018 by the French Catholic Church in its response to the scandals that rattled the Catholic church in France.

Prior to the commission’s formation, Pope Francis had already been taking a series of steps in an effort to wipe out sexual abuse of minors by its clerics. In 2019, the pontiff passed a decree that made bishops accountable for sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults as well covering up any such incidents. Clerics were required to report all cases to the Church superiors and allowed anyone to voice their complaints directly to the Vatican.

Just last month, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cologne, Archbishop Rainer Maria Woelki, took a “spiritual time-out” from his duties after having committed grave errors in handling clerical sexual abuse scandals. In May, the pope dispatched two senior foreign bishops in Germany's largest diocese to investigate the handling of these sexual abuse allegations.

A published 2020 report in Britain showed that the Catholic Church recorded more than 900 complaints that involved over 3,000 incidents of child sexual abuse in England and Wales between 1970 and 2015. Since 2016, over 100 allegations of sexual abuse have been reported each year.

Critics have laid heavy on how the church has not done enough in implementing its measures against erring clerics. In an effort to bring back the faithful, the French Church had even proposed financial compensation to abuse victims who come forward.

Pope Francis
Pope Francis waves as he delivers the weekly Angelus prayer from the window of the apostolic palace overlooking St. Peter's Square on September 26, 2021 in The Vatican. Photo by Vincenzo Pinto/AFP via Getty Images

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