PARIS, Oct 5 (Independent) - An estimated 330,000 children have been victims of sexual abuse within the French Catholic Church over the past 70 years, a report has found.

Jean-March Sauve, head of the commission that led the investigation into child sexual abuse, said on Tuesday that the French Catholic church had showed complete and sometimes cruel indifference to the victims.

The report, which is the first major examination of the abuse perpetuated within the Church, included abuses committed by priests and other clerics as well as by non-religious people involved in the church. Mr Sauve, speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, said that about 80 per cent of the victims were male.

216,000 children were estimated to have been victims of abuse directly at the hands of the clergy over the same time period.

The report is the work of a commission that has worked for two and half years listening to victims and studying church, court, police and press archives from the 1950s onwards. The commission was made up of 22 legal professionals, doctors, historians, sociologists and theologians and worked independently from the Church.

It was set up in 2018 after Pope Francis passed a measure obliging those who know about sex abuse in the Catholic Church to report it to their superiors.

The commission’s research uncovered a “minimum estimate” of between 2,900 and 3,200 paedophile priests or other members operating within the church from 1950 to 2020.