Swiss Catholic Church commissions study into past sexual abuse

SWI [Bern, Switzerland]

December 7, 2021

The leaders of the Catholic Church in Switzerland have commissioned a study into the Swiss church’s history of sexual exploitation since the mid-20th century.

The Swiss Bishops’ Conference and two other organisations announced on Monday that two University of Zurich history professors, Monika Dommann and Marietta Maier, would lead the study which is due to officially launch in March 2022.

“Countless people have endured deep suffering linked to sexual abuse in the context of the Roman Catholic Church,” the organisations said. “Work of scientific memory is owed first of all to the victims, but it will also provide lessons for the future.”

The one-year pilot project will give the researchers access to files and archives “where possible and authorized under canonical and state law”. 

A scientific committee appointed by the Swiss History Society will oversee the project to guarantee its independence.

In 2010, the Swiss Catholic Church finally accepted responsibility for cases of sexual abuse by priests that had earlier come to light.

In 2019, it was reported that over 300 victims had come forward with allegations of sexual abuse against priests in Switzerland since 2010.

Earlier this year, it was announced that a special fund set up to compensate people who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of representatives of the Catholic Church in Switzerland would be extended for another five years to allow more people to file claims. The fund, which was launched by the Swiss Bishops Conference, has paid out compensation to 140 victims of abuse since 2016 when it was set up.