ZURICH (Reuters) - The Swiss Catholic Church is investigating around 10 allegations of abuse by clergy, including some acts committed since 2001, making Switzerland the latest country to be hit by a wave of scandal sweeping Europe.
In a pastoral letter on Saturday, Pope Benedict apologized to victims of child sex abuse by clergy in Ireland and ordered an official inquiry there.
The Swiss Bishops’ Conference said the Pope’s letter confirmed the church in Switzerland had acted correctly in dealing with cases of abuse, and added that it had already worked together with victims to report abuse to the authorities.
“The letter supports the guidelines that the Church introduced for cases of sexual abuse in 2002,” said Conference spokesman Walter Mueller.
The Diocese of Chur, in eastern Switzerland, said it was investigating around 10 complaints of abuse. “Our primary goal now is to help the victims,” the bishop’s representative, Christoph Casetti, told national Swiss television station SF1.
The abbot of a monastery in the diocese said at least three of the 77 monks at Einsiedeln had committed acts of abuse since he took up office in December 2001, but no legal action had been taken in any of the cases.
“The victims or their representatives said expressly that they did not want it,” Abbot Martin Werlen told SF1. There had also been two cases of abuse at the monastery school in the 1970s, resulting in one monk being moved to another post.
Last week, a priest resigned from his post at a parish church in Chur diocese after admitting abusing a child 40 years ago, when he worked in a different country.
Casetti said none of the cases under investigation was in connection to this priest. One of the priests involved had since died and the diocese was trying to get an overview of cases of abuse over the past 50 years, he said.
The leader of Germany’s Roman Catholic Church said on Saturday that the Pope’s apology was also clearly an admonition to bishops in his country.
Archbishop Robert Zollitsch also apologized for mistakes he made in failing to turn over a case of suspected abuse by a priest to state prosecutors when he was in charge of human resources in the Freiburg diocese years ago.
Reporting by Jason Rhodes; editing by David Stamp