According to the 2,500-page study, 80 percent of the victims were young boys aged 10 to 13, but many girls were also abused, not only by priests but also by nuns.
“Until the beginning of the 2000s, the Catholic Church showed a deep and even cruel indifference towards the victims”, declared Tuesday the head of the commission Jean-Marc Sauvé during a press conference.
Mr. Sauvé said the victims were not believed or not heard when they were not suspected of being “partly responsible”.
The gas lighting was said to have been part of a “systematic” cover-up of child abuse by Catholic authorities for more than 70 years, as the commission reported.
During his weekly audience, Pope Francis expressed to the victims his “sadness and pain for the trauma they have suffered”.
“And also my shame, our shame, my shame, for the inability of the Church for too long to put them at the center of its concerns,” he said.
“I pray and we all pray together – to you Lord the glory, to us shame.
“This is the time of shame.”
READ MORE: Election polls in France: three Macrons will face each other in the presidential race
“We can see how systemic it was … with an estimated 216,000 [minor]victims, ”Savignac told Reuters.
“It’s an earthquake, a hurricane, a tsunami … when you see these numbers, it’s so overwhelming that no one can stay in denial, be it the Catholic Church or society at large. “, he added.