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Catholic Church ‘systemic abuse’ dates back to the beginning

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Gillian Smith

A new report shows French clergy sexually abused more than 200,000 children over the past 70 years. Most of the victims of abuse were boys between the ages of 10 and 13.


Kim Haines-Eitzen

Professor of Ancient Mediterranean Religions

Kim Haines-Eitzen, professor of religious studies at Cornell University, says while the report is shocking, it is representative of a long history of clerical abuse.

Haines-Eitzen says: 

“The Catholic Church has a long history of actively covering up sexual abuse, including the silencing of victims. The latest report from France reveals the vast scale of clerical abuse over the course of decades.  But such abuse – violent rape, coercive coverups, victim shaming – is not new.  

“Systemic abuse can be found in the literary and historical records going back to the very beginnings of the Catholic Church, and outrage at corruption in the church is part of what led to the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. Will these latest findings urge the church to reckon seriously with its past, move beyond calls for forgiveness, and create a robust, inclusive, transformational, and transparent reformation?”

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