The man leading a commission established by France’s Catholic bishops to investigate clerical sexual abuse and hierarchical coverup has said that Church officials vastly underestimated the number of victims over the past 70 years, and that the real number of victims could be closer to 10 thousand.
Jean-Marc Sauvé, the highly regarded 71-year-old career civil servant and former vice-president of France’s Council of State, told reporters on Tuesday that a June 2020 figure of 3,000 victims “is certainly an underestimate.”
“It is possible that the figure is at least 10,000,” Sauvé went on to say.
He was speaking to reporters at a press conference in Paris on Tuesday, during which he gave journalists an update on the progress of his investigation.
Sauvé’s commission has more than 20 members with different backgrounds: from law and law enforcement to medical and academic fields. The commission was to have produced a final report by the end of last year, but now says they hope to be ready in September of 2021.
Established in June 2019, the commission Sauvé leads is looking at abuse and coverup going back to the 1950s. A hotline set up to receive victim and witness reports has received 6,500 calls in the 17 months since it went active in June of 2019.
“The big question for us,” Sauvé said, “is how many victims came forward? Is it 25 percent? 10 percent, 5 percent or less?”