Swiss President Doris Leuthard has discussed the issue of child sex abuse during a private audience with Pope Benedict XVI.
Leuthard, on a visit to the Vatican to mark the swearing in of new recruits to the pontiff’s Swiss Guard, also discussed the Swiss vote to ban the construction of minarets and the place of burkas in Swiss society.
“The pope stressed that young people must be protected,” she told the media afterwards. “But he added that the problem of paedophilia affects not just the church but all of society.”
She added that the pope took the problem of sex abuse in the church "very seriously and does not want in any way to brush this affair under the carpet".
They also discussed the role of Islam and freedom of religion, which the pope said had to be practised throughout Europe.
“Equality and tolerance towards Christians in Islamic states would increase acceptance in our society,” Leuthard added.
Regarding the Swiss Guard, new guardsmen are sworn in every year in May in St Peter’s Square. A mass also takes place in memory of 147 Swiss Guards who died in 1527 defending Pope Clement VII during the Sack of Rome.
The Swiss Vatican Guard is known as the smallest army in the world and comprises 110 men. It reports to the pope and is financed by the Vatican.
swissinfo.ch and agencies