Swiss bishops establish independent commission on abuse
By Lisa Zengarini
Following the publication of the CIASE Report in France, the Catholic Church in Switzerland has decided conduct an independent investigation into sexual abuse committed by Church members in the country.
The Conferences of Swiss Bishops (CES) and of religious orders and other communities of consecrated life in Switzerland (KOVOS) together with Central Roman Catholic Conference of Switzerland (Rkz), which brings together 24 cantonal Catholic lay organizations, have entrusted the investigation to the University of Zurich. The study will look into historical cases of “sexual exploitation within the Roman Catholic Church in Switzerland from the second half of the twentieth century", a press release reports. The study will focus on all sexual offences, starting from paedophilia in the Swiss dioceses.
A duty owed to the victims
“Many people have endured great suffering due to sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in Switzerland”, the press release explains. “A scientific research on these cases is a duty we owe above all to the victims, also to draw a lesson the future”.
A special research committee led by to women has been set up by the Swiss History Society (SSS) in order to guarantee the “scientific quality” and “independence” of the study. Indeed, Swiss bishops and religious believe independence is the most essential requirement “to assure justice to the victims”. The study "must also show how their voices can be taken into account in the future".
An indipendent study
The communiqué further states that the media and the public will be informed only once results are available, in order to ensure its independence and prevent any interferences in the research work. They will be published in a final report which will be released in French, German and Italian, the three official languages spoken in Switzerland. Once this final report is available, the commissioning bodies will evaluate the next steps to take. Swiss Bishops will release more detailed information on the project in March 2022.
New Catholic Church's penal code
The establishment of the new commission comes two months after the publication of CIASE report on Sexual Abuse in the Church in France, on October 5 2021, and on the eve of the implementation of the amended Book VI of the Code of Canon Law, (which codifies the penal law of the Latin Catholic Church) including new norms for the protection of children, young people and vulnerable persons. The new canons, promulgated by Pope Francis on 23 May 2021 in the Apostolic Constitution “Pascite gregem Dei (“Shepherd God’s flock”)1, will take effect on December 8. They include provisions for mandatory reporting of suspected crimes and the accountability of bishops and Church leaders for these processes.