As Macron meets pope, abuse victims want reparations

STORY: As Emmanuel Macron met Pope Francis on Monday (October 24), a group of victims of sexual abuse urged the French President to call for swifter reparations for victims of assaults by French clergy.

They say the Catholic church is reacting too slowly to a report revealing assaults on more than 200,000 children.

And they want Macron to raise the issue directly with the pontiff.

Olivier Savignac is an abuse victim and co-founder of the Talk and Live Again association.

"This is a meeting of heads of states. The head of the French state (French President Emmanuel Macron), who is the guarantor of the safety and the good treatment of the French population, and on the other hand, the head of the Catholic Church, the pope (Francis), who has to respond to this raising awareness all around the world, a thing he is not doing so far. So I think it is important to go over this topic because it is about protecting vulnerable people, and most of all children and victims."

Macron and Pope Francis held nearly an hour of private talks on Monday, with the crisis in Ukraine and prospects for peace the main topic.

Ahead of the meeting, the president's office said the issue of church abuse had been addressed with the pope in the past and was not likely to be brought up.

Monday's meeting came a year after a 2,500 page report by the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse detailed how the church repeatedly silenced victims and failed to discipline the clergy involved.

The head of the commission said at the time of publication that the church had shown quote "deep, total and even cruel indifference for years," protecting itself rather than the victims of systemic abuse.

The French conference of bishops or CEF described the report as a "bombshell".

Its head said the church had been shamed, asked for forgiveness and promised to act.

But Savignac says the process was slow.

And that victims have contacted his association because they have heard nothing since coming forward.

Francis at the time expressed gratitude towards victims for having the courage to speak out.

But since then, the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse, established by the CEF in late 2018, has not been received by Francis, according to the Catholic French newspaper La Croix.