French actor Laurent Martinez says he was raped by a priest aged eight, as widespread abuse revealed in report | World news

A French actor said he was raped by a priest when he was eight years old.

Laurent Martinez spoke the day a damning report on the Catholic Church in France revealed that around 330,000 children were abused between 1950 and 2020.

A commission concluded that the church has shown utter and at times cruel indifference to those who have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of the clergy.

Martinez said the priest who raped him was moved to another location after telling his parents what happened, but the abuse continued to affect his life.

“It has haunted me all these years,” he said. “I’m really not completely released on this.”

Martinez said the trauma impacted his relationships with women and left him fearful of sexual touching, which he viewed as “something forbidden.”

He added that he had never heard from the priest who assaulted him again, and given his age at the time, he is likely dead now.

Martinez said the report on this widespread abuse was “definitely too late”, but it was pointless to think about it. Instead, he believes “the time has come to act” – and the recommendations that have been made need to be heeded.

Calling for progress to be monitored every three or six months, Martinez said: “The church must be responsible now for everything it has done in these years.”

He has now written a play on abuse called Pardon? to help him cope with his own experiences.

Of the 330,000 children who were sexually abused, 216,000 were reportedly injured by priests and other religious.

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The president of the Episcopal Conference of France asked forgiveness from the victims. Photo: AP

Jean-Marc Sauvé, chairman of the commission behind the report, said wrongdoing had been covered up by Catholic authorities for decades in a “systemic” fashion.

The scandal in France is the latest to hit the Roman Catholic Church, which has been rocked by sex abuse scandals around the world, often involving children, over the past 20 years.

About 80% of the victims are said to be men, and Mr. Sauvé said that about 60% of all victims of sexual abuse have encountered “major problems in their romantic or sexual life”.

The president of the Episcopal Conference of France asked forgiveness from the victims.

The commission made 45 recommendations on how to prevent abuse in the future – including training priests and clerics as well as promoting policies to recognize and compensate victims.

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