Swiss Prosecutors Probe Historical Sexual Abuse Within Catholic Church

BNN [Winnipeg, Canada]

November 25, 2023

By Dil Bar Irshad

Switzerland’s canton of Valais has launched a preliminary investigation into potential crimes related to sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church, dating back to the mid-20th century. This probe comes in the wake of a report from a pilot project examining the church’s history of sexual abuse. General Prosecutor and cantonal police officers visited the Abbey of St Maurice as part of this investigation.

Potential Crimes and Church’s Cooperation

During the visit, the Abbey’s archivist provided voluntary access to the archives and a canon was interviewed. The Abbey of St Maurice issued a statement expressing their intent to clarify all cases of abuse, pledging to cooperate closely with the authorities for the sake of transparency. The Abbey has also requested the appointment of an Apostolic Delegate from Rome to take charge.

Church-Wide Efforts Amid Scandal

Highlighting broader church efforts, the Roman Catholic Church in Switzerland is contemplating the establishment of a Swiss-wide ecclesiastical court to manage cases of abuse, particularly to decide on expulsion from an order. This follows a decision by the Lucerne Synod to block contributions to the diocese, after a preliminary study revealed at least 1,002 cases of sexual abuse by Catholic clerics and members of religious orders since 1950.

Global Implications and Precedents

The Spanish Roman Catholic Church’s decision to compensate all victims of sex abuse in church institutions marks a significant shift in the church’s stance. This move, which follows a shocking report revealing at least 728 clerics sexually abused at least 927 minors between 1945 and 2022, may set a precedent for other Catholic institutions worldwide. It is worth noting that the presumption of innocence applies to the accused persons during the preliminary proceedings.