October 6, 2021 - Statement of Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, President, Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors on the report commissioned by the Episcopal Conference of France on clergy sexual abuse

News October 6, 2021

The report commissioned by the Episcopal Conference of France is an indictment of the failures of leadership in the Church and those holding responsibility for the care and protection of the faithful.

This history of unchecked abuse extending over the course of generations challenges our comprehension of how innocent persons could have suffered so terribly and their voices been ignored for so long.

It is unquestioned that the leadership of the Church, working in collaboration with civic officials and law enforcement, must not fail in the commitment to seek healing and justice for the survivors. The comprehensive measures outlined by the leadership of the Church in France earlier this year, providing concrete expression of how the “cruel indifference” that survivors experienced in the Church can be turned into care and protection, are to be welcomed and incorporated at all levels of authority.

The Church in France has taken the necessary first steps for dealing with the scourge of sexual abuse by commissioning this report. We must all adhere to Pope Francis’ directive: ‘there is absolutely no place in ministry for those who abuse minors or vulnerable adults.’
We cannot allow that one survivor goes unacknowledged or that one person would be in danger of abuse by a member of the Church.

On behalf of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, I express our profound sorrow and humbly ask forgiveness on the part of all those harmed by these crimes and reprehensible violations of human dignity. We are committed to vigorous advocacy for the rights of survivors, and to abuse prevention education, transparency, accountability and zero tolerance. There remains a long road ahead of us in confronting abuse in our Church and in society at large. We will not tire in walking this journey.

Finally, and most importantly, our thoughts and prayers are with the survivors of sexual abuse. I deeply regret all that the survivors have endured because of the destructive actions of some members of the Church.  

This report is a yet another clarion call to the Church throughout the world to hold the safeguarding and protection of children and vulnerable adults as our highest priority.