Research reveals over 1,000 cases of sexual abuse by Swiss Catholic Church clergy
According to study commissioned by Swiss Bishops' Conference and conducted by University of Zurich researchers, 74% of abuse cases involve minors
The latest study revealed over 1,000 cases of sexual abuse by Swiss Catholic Church clergy and other employees, with 74% of such abuses involving minors, the University of Zurich said on Tuesday, describing the cases as the "tip of the iceberg."
The University of Zurich conducted a study commissioned by the Swiss Bishops' Conference that documented 1,002 cases of sexual abuse committed by Catholic clergy, church employees, and religious in Switzerland from 1950 to the present.
The university said in a press statement that this is the first study that has allowed an independent research team to look into church archives for files on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church environment.
The study's historians specifically counted 1,002 cases of sexual abuse committed by Catholic clergy, church employees, and religious order members in Switzerland from 1950 to the present, it added.
With a few exceptions, the research team was given the necessary access to the archives "without major (sic!) hurdles," the statement said.
In addition, numerous interviews were conducted with victims of sexual abuse and other people.
In 39% of the cases, the individuals affected were female, while in just under 56% of the cases, the victims were male. The gender of 5% could not be determined from the sources.
With few exceptions, the accused were men, according to the study, which adds that 74% of the sexual abuse cases investigated during the pilot project involved minors.
"The cases identified are undoubtedly only the tip of the iceberg," the study authors write.
According to the university, numerous other archives, such as archives of religious congregations, documents of diocesan bodies, and the archival holdings of Catholic schools, boarding schools, and homes, as well as state archives, could not yet be evaluated.
"The destruction of files can be proven for two dioceses," the university added.
In addition, it can be proven "that not all reports were consistently recorded in writing and archived. Given the findings from dark field research, we assume that only a small proportion of cases were ever reported at all," the historians write.
According to Switzerland’s Federal Statistical Office, 33.7% of Swiss people are Roman Catholic and 21.8% aspire to belong to the Protestant Reformed Church, while 5.5% identify themselves as Muslim and 30.9 % are non-denominational.