The first scientific study of the extent of sexual abuse committed by the Catholic Church in Switzerland found 921 victims since 1950, the University of Zurich revealed on Tuesday, which is in charge of the investigation by church authorities.
“This is really the tip of the iceberg,” explains Professor Marietta Meier, who led the study with her colleague Monika Domman, because most cases have not been reported or the corresponding documents have been destroyed.
This is the first result of a year-long investigation by historians aimed at shedding light on abuses in Switzerland, following the example of similar investigations carried out long ago in other parts of the world.
According to these first results – which will be completed by a new research campaign that will last three years – 74% of the victims identified so far are minors.
In total, 510 people, almost all men, committed the abuse.
More than half (56%) of the victims are men, 39% are women, and the gender of the victim is unknown in the remaining cases, the document highlights.
In Switzerland, as elsewhere, “it became clear that those responsible for the Church ignored, concealed or minimized the majority of sexual abuse cases investigated until the 2000s,” the researchers pointed out.
“When they are forced to act, they usually do it not by focusing on the people affected, but to protect the perpetrators, the institution or their own position,” they emphasize.
This issue “has worried us for a long time, it pains us and it embarrasses us,” declared the president of the Roman Catholic Central Conference of Switzerland, Renata Asal Steger, at the press conference to present the report.
“We ignore the issue, countless excuses and actions are presented without living up to the rights of the victims,” he said.