The Vatican has called for an investigation into high-ranking Catholic clergy members in Switzerland having to do with sexual abuse.
The Swiss Bishops’ Conference stated that there were apparently allegations against retired and active bishops, as well as other clergy members in their handling of abuse cases, per Associated Press.
The majority of the clergy members have been accused of covering up abuse cases, but there are some who have been accused of committing sexual abuse themselves.
The conference noted that the Vatican had received a letter with the allegations listed in May. As a result, they appointed Swiss Bishop Joseph Bonnemain to lead the preliminary investigation in June, according to the report.
Bonnemain is reportedly known for investigating sexual assaults within the church.
Winnipeg Free Press reported that Father Nicolas Betticher, a priest at the Bruder Klaus church in Bern, had written the letter, which came to light earlier Sunday in a report by the newspaper Blick.
The letter accuses six bishops of covering up abuse cases. Additionally, one bishop and three priests are accused of sexually molesting teenagers.
Betticher told the AP during a phone interview that he was motivated by a call from Pope Francis who said members of the clergy should “announce” any signs of sexual abuse or cover-up that they may come across.
“Twenty years ago, we did not have a sufficient legal basis and therefore we made a lot of mistakes,” Betticher said.
“Now, I see that for 10 years, we have continued to make mistakes and today, there is a kind of will to hide certain things, or not to be precise, and not to go through with the checks (of allegations of sexual abuse).”
“Today, we can no longer afford to simply say, ‘Ah yes, I know, but I didn’t do it quite right, but we’ll do better next time.’ That’s over,” Betticher said. “It completely discredits the Church. And that’s what disturbs me, because at the core, people tell us: ‘We don’t want to come anymore, we’re leaving the church.’ And that, for me, is unacceptable.”
The bishops’ conference has informed the Swiss public prosecutor’s offices “of the cases mentioned in the letter.”
The revelation comes after a report earlier this year suggested that the Catholic Church had experienced a mass exodus, with more than 500,000 German Catholics leaving the church due to allegations of sexual abuse and assault.
[embedded content]German catholic church loses 500,000 people amidst grave allegations | Latest World News | WIONwww.youtube.com
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