Last month, a bombshell investigation into France’s Catholic Church found that, since 1950, there were 333,000 sexual abuse victims and roughly 3,200 abusers.
One of the simplest suggestions by the commission investigating the Church was to require priests to report child abuse to law enforcement even if they only learned about it through the act of confession. France’s top bishop, Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, said that idea was a non-starter. They would do anything to help children, he implied, except the most obvious option.
But here’s something more tangible: Yesterday, France’s Catholic Church said it would pay the victims of child sexual abuse even if it meant giving up a chunk of their wealth.
France’s Catholic Church announced on Monday that it would financially compensate sex abuse victims by selling property assets or taking out a loan if needed.
French bishops said in a written statement they will set up an “independent, national body” tasked with addressing compensation issues. They committed to allocating money to a specific fund “in order to compensate victims,” notably by selling property or through a potential loan.
It’s a start. I’ll believe it when they start paying out the money. But even this would only address past wrongs, not prevent future ones. Unless the Church is willing to set aside some of their dogmatic rules in order to make sure no child is ever hurt again, it’s clear they’re not interested in doing everything they can to prevent abuse.
The Church willing to pay out some funds is like a billionaire having to pay taxes. It’s necessary, sure, but they won’t even notice the money is gone. It won’t change their behavior.
At least for the victims, though, there will be some level of justice that goes beyond some meaningless thoughts and prayers.
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