Probe ordered into Catholic Church sex abuse cover-ups in Switzerland

AFP - [email protected]
Probe ordered into Catholic Church sex abuse cover-ups in Switzerland
The monastery of Montcroix in Delemont, north-western Switzerland. Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI/AFP.

The coordinating body of the Catholic dioceses in Switzerland said Sunday a preliminary investigation had been launched into accusations of sexual abuse cover-ups within the Church.


The Bishops' Conference of Switzerland said an investigation has been opened following accusations of both abuse and efforts to cover up abuse had been made against several former and serving members of the conference, as well as other members of clergy.

The conference statement came after the SonntagsBlick weekly on Sunday reported that a former prominent priest had in a letter accused four current and two former bishops of covering up cases of sexual abuse by clergy in Switzerland.

One of them was himself accused of sexually harassing a boy, the paper reported.

The conference acknowledged in Sunday's statement that a letter dated in late May contained accusations involving "the handling of sex abuse cases".

Some of those names "are accused themselves of committing sexual abuse in the past", it said, stressing that "the appropriate authorities have been informed about the cases mentioned in the letter".

The letter had been addressed to Martin Krebs, the apostolic nuncio to Switzerland, who had transmitted the accusations to the dicastery in Rome.

On June 23, the dicastery ordered a preliminary investigation, and appointed the Bishop of Chur Joseph Bonnemain to lead the probe, the statement said. The investigation is expected to be completed by the end of the year.


"The main focus of this preliminary ecclesiastic investigation is the accusation of dissimulation of abuse cases," the conference said.

Investigation of the alleged sexual abuse itself would primarily fall to police and prosecutors, it explained.

The conference stressed that its directives oblige ecclesiastic leaders to file complaints with the authorities in any cases where there is suspicion of sexual crimes against minors.


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