Catholic church in Valais rocked by new sex abuse claims

Accusations of historic sexual abuse have been made against around ten Catholic priests in the bishopric of Sion in the canton of Valais.

Catholic church in Valais rocked by new sex abuse claims
Photo: lightpoet/Depositphotos

The bishop of Sion, Jean-Marie Lovey, has asked the victims for forgiveness, the Swiss news agency SDA reported, quoting Radio Rhône FM.

It said the abuse of children and young people happened between the 1950s and 1990s, and all the cases were now too old for a prosecution to take place.

The paedophile priests were identified after some ten victims went to the diocese of Sion with abuse allegations last year.

Three of the accused clergymen are still alive.

One of the victims told the radio the numbers of reported abuse cases did not correspond to the reality.

He said he had met around 50 other victims in Valais, many of whom did not want to talk about what they had experienced.

The man accused the church of a cover-up, saying previous bishops had known about the sexual abuse but had done nothing except move some priests to other parishes.

But Bishop Lovey, who was appointed by Pope Francis in 2014, denied there had been an attempt to cover up the abuse.

He said priests were moved to other parishes as a preventive measure.

Between 2010 and 2016, around 220 victims informed the Swiss church authorities of abuse by ordained clergy between 1950 and 1990, SDA said.

The latest cases in Valais will be included in the church’s statistics for 2017, which have not yet been published.

In February 2017 the Swiss Bishops Conference set up a commission charged with awarding compensation to victims of historic sex abuse by Swiss priests.

The leading church authority announced it had created a 500,000 franc reparations fund to pay compensation to victims who no longer have the right to seek redress in court since the statute of limitations has passed. 


Thurgau’s rescued horses sold at auction

A public sale of 93 mistreated horses from a farm in Thurgau resulted in most of the animals being sold amid high public interest.

Thurgau’s rescued horses sold at auction
Not one of the horses. File photo:IgorVetushko/Depositphotos

Around 500 people turned up for the auction at Schönbuhl army barracks in the canton of Bern on Thursday, 20 Minuten reported.

It said demand was so great that lots had to be drawn for some of the horses.

The sale was by auction with the maximum price being 500 francs over the animal’s estimated value.

The horses, including foals, were among 300 animals confiscated from the farm on August 7th after pictures published in newspaper Blick showed severely malnourished and mistreated horses at the property. 

Since then the animals have been cared for by recruits at the Swiss army's veterinary training centre in Schonbühl. 

The defence ministry tweeted earlier this week that the horses were on the road to recovery.

As the army centre could not house the animals beyond August 18th the Thurgau cantonal veterinary service decided to put them up for sale.

Opening the sale, the auctioneer said the aim was to give the animals back their dignity. 

The speed of the sale angered some animal welfare groups, including Animal Protection Switzerland (PSA). 

The Swiss news agency SDA said animal rights activists had purchased some of the animals, angering private buyers who felt they had no chance.