French Catholic Church to sell assets to compensate sex abuse victims

French church compensate victims

The bishops of France will sell real estate assets to compensate sexual abuse survivors who were victims of clergy and staff of the French Catholic Church.

“We will not take money from the Church’s yearly parish contributions, we will not use donations that the faithful make to us for [our missions]”, Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, president of the Bishops’ Conference of France (CEF) announced on Monday.

The Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in Church (ICSA) urged the Church to pay survivors with its own assets instead of relying on donations from parishioners. They insisted each person be compensated individually and said the reparations should be studied case by case.

Paying reparations to survivors without counting on donations from parishioners will cause the French Church significant financial stress.

The Catholic Church has been robbed of its assets twice in French history.

The first occasion was during the French Revolution in 1789. The second instance occurred in 1905, following a law separating the Church and state was instituted.

That means most churches belong to and are not owned and maintained by the Church but by local municipalities. And unlike most other European countries, the Church in France doesn’t receive any state subsidies.

“The entirety of the Church’s income comes from donations. We live off donations,” deputy secretary-general and director of communications at the CEF Karine Dalle told FRANCE 24.

The total sum the French church needs to compensate victims is not yet defined, but it will be immense. Moreover, as other survivors come forward, the compensation is expected to grow.

“The 330,000 victims in the report are a statistic for now. We still don’t have their names. We don’t know who they are,” Dalle said.

“We’re completely in the dark.”

It will be up to the Independent National Authority for Recognition and Reparation (INIRR), headed by lawyer Marie Derain de Vaucresson, to determine the exact amount allocated to each survivor.

“We will ensure that no one is left behind,” Archbishop de Moulins-Beaufort told reporters after the annual meeting of bishops held last week.

In October, the ICSA released a monumental report unveiling the extent of child sexual abuse that has taken place in the hands of the French Catholic Church.

Part of the report included recommendations on how the Church should compensate the survivors.


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