Church Sexual Abuses: Swiss Bishops Want To Set Up An Ecclesiastical Tribunal

(MENAFN- Swissinfo) This decision follows the cases of sexual abuse revealed by a study conducted by the University of Zurich .

Swiss civil criminal law would continue to take precedence, and the criminal prosecution authorities would be compulsorily involved in all cases of abuse or other offences committed in an ecclesiastical context.

Such ecclesiastical tribunal would also deal with the necessary sanctions in the event of a breach of ecclesiastical law, according to a press release issued by the Swiss Bishops' Conference on Saturday morning.



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In order to establish this national tribunal, the Swiss bishops will hold talks with Vatican officials in the coming weeks.

Further measures

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), the Roman Catholic Central Conference of Switzerland and the Roman Catholic religious communities of Switzerland commissioned the study of the University of Zurich and have taken additional measures. These include the continuation of this study by two historians.



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A national service will be set up to collect reports from victims. In addition, the members of the ETUC have signed a personal commitment to ensure that all ecclesiastical archives under their responsibility remain accessible and that no documents are destroyed.

The ETUC has also decided to introduce an in-depth psychological assessment procedure for seminarians, novitiate candidates and other pastoral workers. This assessment procedure already exists in many regions, but it will now be standardised and professionalised on a national scale and will be compulsory everywhere. The personal files of all pastoral staff will be professionalised. These measures should be in place by the end of 2024 at the latest.

Abuses documented

In their pilot study published on September 12, the researchers from the University of Zurich documented at least 1,002 cases of sexual abuse committed by members of the Catholic clergy and religious since 1950. According to the historians, this is just the tip of the iceberg, as most cases have not been reported and the documents have been destroyed.



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The abuses were committed by 510 people out of 921 victims. Nearly 56% of the victims were men and 74% were minors. With a few exceptions, the perpetrators were men.

The report documents acts of abuse ranging from problematic crossing of boundaries to the most serious systematic abuse, involving rape, which lasted for years. Many cases have been hushed up, covered up or played down by the Catholic Church, said one of the study's authors.


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