Catholic church in Switzerland hit by 10 new sex abuse claims

A Catholic church in Valais, Switzerland, has been hit anew with 10 new accusations of sex abuse involving priests that allegedly happened from the 1950s to the 1990s.

(WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / Diocèse de Sion / Bernard Broccard)Clocher de la Cathédrale de Sion. 22 November 2004.

Ten priests in the Catholic diocese of Sion have been accused of sexual abuse of children and young people. Although three of the accused are still alive, the alleged incidents happened too long ago for them to be prosecuted, The Local reported.

The new allegations came to light after 10 victims went to the diocese of Sion and reported the abuse. Swiss news agency SDA said Jean-Marie Lovey, the bishop of Sion, asked forgiveness from the victims.

One victim who spoke to Radio Rhône FM said he was able to visit around 50 other victims in Valais, but many of them did not want to discuss the abuse they endured. He also said the Catholic church covered up the abuse, as previous bishops knew what was happening but only relocated accused priests to other parishes.

Bishop Lovey, on the other hand, denied a cover-up attempt. He said the involved priests were relocated as part of preventive measures.

In February last year, the Swiss Catholic Church announced that it had established a reparations commission that will examine the complaints of the abuse victims and also facilitate their compensation requests. The move came a year after it set up a CHF500,000 ($498,000) fund for the victims of church abuse, Swiss Info detailed.

Joseph Bonnemain of the Conference of Swiss Bishops spoke to the Swiss News Agency and said the Catholic Church encourages clergy abuse victims to come forward to file their formal complaint. The compensation claim, addressed to either their diocese or to the independent sexual abuse commission, will be forwarded to the reparations commission.

There have only been 20 criminal cases filed against priests and monks in Switzerland since 2010. The Church, however, has reportedly caught 172 offenders, with many of these cases traced back to the 1950s.