Systematic Cover-up in the Church
The study brought to light a systematic cover-up within the church, revealing that “Church criminal law was rarely enforced during most of the study period.” Instead, many cases were intentionally concealed or downplayed, according to the report. Furthermore, it exposed a practice where Church leaders frequently transferred accused clergy, sometimes across international borders, to avoid secular prosecution.
In terms of demographics, the report’s summary indicated that 39% of the victims were female, while just under 56% were male. The report also highlighted that in nearly all cases, the accused individuals were men, with 74% of the examined files documenting instances of sexual abuse of minors.
Future Research and Accountability
Gmür, in response to the findings, stressed the importance of future studies delving into “Catholic specifics” that might have contributed to the occurrence of abuse, including aspects like sexual morality and celibacy. He emphasized that this guilt cannot be simply erased and must be confronted, with a focus on understanding the Church’s power dynamics and sexual ethics.
Commitment to Action
The Swiss Bishops’ Conference made a commitment to take action in response to the report’s revelations. They announced plans to establish and financially support independent reporting offices to facilitate the reporting of abuses. Additionally, all related documents will be preserved indefinitely to prevent further cover-ups.
Ongoing Vatican-led Investigation
On a related note, the Swiss Bishops’ Conference disclosed that there is an ongoing Vatican-led investigation into the handling of abuse allegations. This investigation is expected to conclude by the end of the year, signaling the Church’s commitment to addressing and rectifying issues related to abuse within its ranks.