French Catholics agree to sell property to compensate victims of abuse

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A Christian Catholic cross is silhouetted in Saint-Fiacre-sur-Maine near Nantes, France on October 5, 2021. REUTERS / Stephane Mahe / File Photo

PARIS, November 8 (Reuters) – The French Catholic Church announced Monday that it will sell real estate and, if necessary, take out loans to create a fund to compensate thousands of people sexually assaulted by clergy.

A major investigation revealed in October that French clerics had sexually abused more than 200,000 children over the past 70 years. Read more

The high clergy gathered in the holy place of Lourdes had recognized the “institutional responsibility” of their Church and decided “to embark on the path of recognition and reparation”, declared the highest bishop of France, Eric de Moulins-Beaufort.

The bishops would create a fund “financed to the extent necessary by the disposal of real estate and other assets,” told reporters from Moulins-Beaufort, archbishop of Reims and president of the bishops’ conference of France.

“In case of need, we are also ready to take out loans in order to fulfill our obligations,” he added after the meeting. He gave no details on the size of the fund or on the assets that could be sold.

The October report found that the French church had shown “deep, utter and even cruel indifference for years”, protecting itself rather than the victims of what was systemic abuse.

At the time, Pope Francis called the findings – the latest revelations to rock the Roman Catholic Church after a string of sexual abuse scandals around the world – a “moment of shame.” Read more

Several members of the clergy were seen falling to their knees in acts of penance during weekend meetings in Lourdes.

De Moulins-Beaufort said the bishops also decided to ask the Pope to send them special envoys to oversee the handling by each bishop and diocese of individual abuse cases.

Reporting by Tassilo Hummel; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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