Catholic Church struggles with sex scandal

812550_92467913.jpgThe Catholic bishop for Fribourg, Lausanne and Geneva in western Switzerland has asked forgiveness from victims of paedophile priests, after several cases of abuse came to light. In the most widely publicised case, a Swiss priest was moved to France by superiors who knew he had already sexually abused at least one child.
UPDATE: a priest in Neuchâtel, once suspected of paedophile abuse before he was ordained, has shot himself through the heart. According to his family, he had complained of considerable local media pressure that came in the wake of the other cases that have rocked the local diocese. One formal complaint was filed against him in 2001. The case was dropped because of the statute of limitations even though he partially confessed. He was working in a parish, but was following medical treatment and was not working with children.

Bernard Genoud said there was an “obligation to ask for pardon from the victims, pardon for the lack of transparency, clarity, communication, and indeed of courage which unfortunately led to these offences.” He added that he did not exactly know how to ask forgiveness for the “unfair suffering” of the victims.

In the meantime, the diocese has set up an independent commission of experts to gather information on abuse and strengthen prevention. The new commission’s mandate is to collect all information that arrives via hotline, letters, emails and meetings about possible sexual abuse.

It will verify allegations of abuse and draw up a report for the authorities of the diocese, as well as try to improve prevention measures. These will be aimed at priests and, in particular, future priests.

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