PARIS – An independent commission investigating church sexual abuse in France believes 3,000 child abusers – two-thirds of whom are priests – have worked in the church in the past 70 years.

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This estimate was given by the commission’s chairman, Jean-Marc Sauve, in an interview published in the Journal du Dimanche newspaper on Sunday. The commission has been investigating since 2 1/2 years. Its full findings are due to be released on Tuesday.

In the interview, Sauve did not provide any figures on the number of sexual abuse victims, but said the report included a new estimate.

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Asked about the work of the commission investigating child abuse, he said: “We assessed their numbers at 115,00 priests and 3,000 of the church people since the 1950s. Two-thirds of the bishops are priests. “

He said 22 cases have been sent to prosecutors for alleged offenses which are still to be prosecuted. Sauve said more than 40 cases of alleged crimes that are too old to stand trial but include suspects who are still alive have been referred to church officials.

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The newspaper quoted him as saying, “From 1950 to 1970, the Church is completely indifferent to the victims: they do not exist, the suffering inflicted on children is ignored.” “The latter period was different.”

He added: “Our aim is to present a solid diagnosis of all abuse, identify the causes and draw all the consequences.”