SNAP stands in solidarity with the French actor who disclosed the abuse he suffered as a young boy at the hands of a Catholic priest

Laurent Martinez, a French actor who wrote a play about his sexual abuse at age eight forty years after the crimes, is to be commended for speaking out. Just last week, a massive report out of France estimated that 330,000 children were sexually abused in the Church since 1950, and that Catholic officials covered up these crimes in a “systemic manner,” Laurent deplored that “there is no — absolutely no — sense of urgency” within the Church despite the devastating results of this investigation.

We applaud Laurent for his willingness to be public about the abuse he suffered because of a Catholic priest. His disclosure that the clergyman was moved after his parents alerted the diocese is part of the playbook that has been used by Church officials around the world. The shame he expresses so eloquently, including his difficulty with intimacy, speaks to the thousands, and perhaps millions, of men and women like him who were sexually molested as youngsters by the men they thought were shepherds. 

This problem of abuse is not in the past. The French report itself noted a resurgence in the 1990s. Moreover, delayed reporting of child sexual abuse is common. The average age for a survivor to come forward is 52. Because of this, we likely will not know for decades what the numbers are for the 2000s and beyond. But we do know that since the Catholic Church and its leaders still refuse to take action to address the systemic causes of the scandal, that future numbers will probably be just as ugly. More importantly, more children will be destroyed.

We echo and stand in solidarity with Laurent’s statement, “there is no — absolutely no — sense of urgency” within the Church to reform.  It is long past time for secular authorities to exert their powers of governance to monitor the Catholic church. This is not just a problem of systemic child sexual abuse. This is a problem of the systemic cover-up of the sexual abuse of hundreds of thousands of boys and girls. 

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