The French bishops have agreed to name an independent commission to shed light on clerical sexual abuse cases dating back to the 1950s and assess measures taken since the early 2000s to combat the problem. The commission, which would include historians, judges and experts on child development, will produce a report within two years “to understand the reasons that favoured how these cases were handled and to make recommendations.” The bishops also agreed to make “a financial gesture” to victims without specifying amounts.
Some politicians had called for a government inquiry, similar to those in the United States, but church leaders opposed an official inquiry solely into the Catholic Church. The decision came at the bishops’ autumn plenary meeting in Lourdes after they met for the first time with eight abuse victims.
Cardinal Archbishop Philippe Barbarin of Lyon, who will appear in court in January on charges of non-denunciation of an abusive priest, defended himself in an interview with the Paris archdiocese’s Radio Notre Dame. “I’ll go and I’ll explain exactly what happened,” he said. “I did what Rome asked of me.”