The first scientific study on the extent of sexual abuse committed in the Catholic Church in Switzerland has made it possible to find 921 victims since 1950, revealed Tuesday, September 12, the University of Zurich, responsible for the investigation by the ecclesiastical authorities.
“This is probably just the [tip] of the iceberg,” explained Professor Marietta Meier, who led the study with her colleague Monika Dommann, as most cases were either unreported or documents listing them having been destroyed. This is the first result of a year-long investigative work carried out by historians and intended to shed light on abuses in the Swiss country, like similar investigations carried out for a long time elsewhere in the world.
According to this first part, which will be supplemented by a new research campaign lasting three years, 74% of the victims identified so far are minors. In total, 510 people, almost entirely men, committed the abuse. More than half (56%) of the victims are male, 39% are female and the sex of the victim is unknown for the remaining cases, the document further highlights.
In Switzerland, as elsewhere, it “became clear that Church officials ignored, concealed or minimized most of the cases of sexual abuse analyzed until the 2000s,” note the researchers. “When they were forced to act, they often did so not with a focus on the people affected, but to protect the perpetrators [of these sexual abuses], the institution or their own position,” emphasize -they.
“Atrocious acts” and “countless failings”
This subject “has concerned us for a long time now, it distresses us and shames us,” declared the president of the Roman Catholic Central Conference of Switzerland, Renata Asal-Steger, during the press conference to present the report. “We missed the point, we made countless apologies and [we carried out] actions that do not live up to what the victims are entitled to,” she admitted.
Stressing that "this is an important day for the Roman Catholic Church in Switzerland", Ms. Asal-Steger insisted: "Even if atrocious acts and countless failings in the ranks of the three national organizations of the Catholic Church will be today Today brought to light, we are grateful. »
Coincidentally, the highest authority of the Roman Catholic Church in Switzerland announced on Sunday that a preliminary investigation had been opened into accusations of covering up sexual assault within the Church. The Conference of Swiss Bishops specified, in a press release, that the investigation had been opened following “allegations made against several emeritus and serving members of the Conference of Swiss Bishops, as well as other members of the clergy, in the management of cases of sexual abuse”.