Facts Don’t Matter: Authors of Sloppy French Abuse ‘Report’ Stand by Its Figure of 300,000 Alleged Victims Despite Admitting ‘Weaknesses’

French Catholic abuse report

Salacious speculation disguised as serious research: The 2021 French Catholic abuse report

After the release of a shoddy report from France last October claiming that some "300,000" people were sexually abused by Catholic priests and lay workers in past decades, we thought we might have been the only ones to speak out against the report's obvious flaws.

On its face, it seemed implausible to us that so many people were abused. And when you drilled into the details of the report, it immediately became clear that that number was unsupported. The report was little more than anecdotal gossip.

But good news: It turns out others have called out the sloppy report as well. As reported by Catholic News Agency, the prestigious Académie Catholique de France has published a devastating 15-page critique of the report, citing the report's complete lack of "scientific rigor" and concluding that the report was meant to "feed the narrative of a 'systemic' character and lay the groundwork for proposals to bring down the Church-institution."

In other words, this "France abuse report" last fall was nothing but an anti-Catholic hit job masquerading as serious scholarship. Surprised?

A report built on sand

Indeed, the Académie Catholique was correct to cite the clear shortcomings of the report. As we chronicled last October:

● What the report called "victims" were actually just random accusers, as citizens all across France were encouraged to fill out an "anonymous online questionnaire," allowing just about any crank to say just about anything without any scrutiny. (This was not unlike the time in 2018 when an anonymous "tip line" was established for anyone to accuse Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sex crimes during his confirmation hearings; and, in the words of a Washington insider, "Every whack-job in the world called in to that thing.")

● Despite an investigation lasting three years, the report's commission only interviewed a mere 174 accusers. So, 174 / 216,000, or 0.081% (0.00081) of the total.

● The commission also interviewed only 11 priests alleged to have committed abuse many decades ago. Only 11? That was the real scandal there.

Well over half of the accused priests were long dead and no longer around to defend themselves. The vast majority of accusations were never even fully investigated.

In a lengthy response to the Académie Catholique, the authors of the original abuse report refreshingly admitted that "we cannot ensure that there is no significant bias affecting [the] estimates" and that, "as a matter of principle, all statistics derived from a survey are subject to errors of many kinds … [T]here is never a total guarantee, because there is always an error due to sampling and non-response." Uh-huh.

But after acknowledging the glaring weaknesses of their own report, the authors then go on to do some backbending mathematical gymnastics and then comically claim that their figures are accurate "within the 95% confidence interval."

Well, we are 95% confident that the authors' bigoted sideswipe against the Church was full of merde.


  1. Bob says:

    So, because the report is partly inaccurate and incomplete, is that some sort of excuse fir the French church's institutional behavior with respect to clerical sex abuse?

    • LLC says:


      a couple of points concerning your post:

      no Catholic is making excuses for the behavior of very few Catholics who committed these (and other) terrible crimes. Oh, you’ll probably see some comments from other posters who like to read these articles as somehow excusing and even defending an imaginary corporate and widespread attitude, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. What TMR is doing is pointing out the obvious flaws of these reports and the sensationalistic way that the Media is reporting them.
      The “institutional behavior” of the Church, regarding these situations (and all other criminal matters), is to report them to the competent authorities, after investigating them internally to make sure of their legitimacy. You may say (as, again, objective Catholics also do), that sometimes She has not been timely in Her response, but it is absolutely untrue to even assume that these crimes and sins are anything but abhorred by Catholics, at any and every level.

      Please keep in mind that the societal response to these situations has been, for a very long time, to either disregard them as misunderstanding, or as something that could be solved by some well-intended (but dramatically wrong) mental and behavioral “expert”, or as something simply untrue. The Church is still the only Institution that has enacted drastic changes on how these abuses are to be addressed, and by all standards and statistic, these new measures are working. Are they perfect? No, by any mean, but neither are we, this side of Heaven.

      Have a bless Lent, brother.