Switzerland is now the next country in which mass cases of sexual abuse of those under protection have come to light within the Roman Catholic Church. However, it is only the “tip of the iceberg”.
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The number of cases of abuse is increasing
The number of uncovered cases of abuse in the area of responsibility of the Roman Catholic Church is constantly increasing. After the multiple revelations of abuse of those under protection, there is now another package of “education” from Switzerland. A study conducted by the University of Zurich examined sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Switzerland and came to a preliminary conclusion. According to this, at least 1,002 cases of sexual abuse by clergy have been counted since the middle of the 20th century. A total of 921 victims of 510 perpetrators.
As different as the countries in which the Catholic Church has excelled in sexual abuse within its reach are, the character of each is similar. The majority of the victims are minors and most of them are male. The cases also have in common the efforts of those responsible, primarily the bishops as overseers, to cover up the notoriously persistent sexual abuse. The title of katholisch.de is “Why the Church in Switzerland is no exception when it comes to abuse” (Source), but this actually answers itself. It is not “Switzerland” or another country that is the perpetrator, but always those responsible within the same institution, the Roman Catholic Church.
The majority of victims were underage boys
The cases of abuse counted took into account “problematic crossings of boundaries” through to serious, systematic abuse that lasted over long periods of time. 56 percent of the victims were male and 39 percent were female. In 5 percent of the cases of abuse, the gender of the victim was not clear. 74 percent of the abuse victims were minors, 14 percent were already adults and the age of 12 percent was not determined.
The slightly more than 1,000 cases of abuse identified represent only a small excerpt from a high number of unreported cases. The leaders of the study emphasized that the known cases were only “the tip of the iceberg”. There is no regional focus. The recorded cases were spread throughout Switzerland.
It is also criticized that ecclesiastical criminal law was hardly applied in these cases either. Rather, the cases of abuse in Switzerland were trivialized, concealed and covered up. Those responsible have even transferred accused and convicted perpetrators in the church abroad in order to protect them from persecution by the secular justice system. The convicted clerics were able to continue their work.
Perfidious selection of abuse locations
The local focus of the abuse was predominantly “social spaces”. This includes welfare areas, educational centers, altar server service and also the confessional.
The area of the confessional is a particularly perfidious approach by the Catholic priest. The position of power usually also plays a major role here. This applies in particular to the Catholic custom of confession before minors receive their first communion. In view of the extremely high number of cases of abuse in the Catholic Church in Germany, psychiatrist Harald Dressing warned against the ritual of confessing minors in the confessional (Info).
More cases will become known
It is likely that further cases of the sometimes systematic abuse of minors within the Roman Catholic Church will come to light. This is indicated not only by previous studies of abuse (Examples), but also by the current statement about the tip of the iceberg in cases in Switzerland alone.