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Sexual abuse Catholic authorities criticised over paedophile Capuchin friar

A friar of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin in Brig-Glis

The head of the Swiss Capuchins said friars' initial and ongoing training involved dealing with questions of sexuality in order to prevent future cases of abuse

(Keystone)

The Swiss order of Capuchin Friars and the Diocese of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg have been heavily criticised in a report into a former Catholic priest, who for decades abused victims in Switzerland and France. 

An investigation carried out by an independent commission said on Tuesday that a former Capuchin friar had sexually abused various people but only 24 victims had been formally identified so far by the justice system: 22 in Switzerland and two in France. The Swiss cases never went to court as they were too old and beyond the legal deadline on when victims can bring civil suits or prosecutors can press charges.  

The inquiry was launched after the book “Mon Père, je vous pardonne” (My Father, I forgive you) was published in Switzerland in 2017. The autobiography was written by Daniel Pittet, a man from Fribourg who was sexually abused by the priest when he was a child.

The abuser, who was stripped of his religious title in May 2017, is 77 years old and has lived in a convent in canton St Gallen since 2009.

+ Swiss Catholic Church to examine abuse victims' cases

The commission found that the overall number of cases involving the priest were the same as had previously been reported. However, it said that from the first complaints made to the friar's superiors in the 1970s up to the 2000s, the Catholic Church had revealed numerous successive failings. The Swiss religious authorities had not reacted to the warnings and had later simply transferred the priest to another location.

The report said the Diocese of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg had also not helped victims and had not filed any complaints to the police, even after the friar admitted committing abuse in 1989.

The head of the Swiss Capuchins, Agostino Del Pietro, apologized on behalf of the order for not taking the crimes seriously, for the lack of appropriate measures and for not reporting the friar to the police.

“Such a thing should never happen again,” he declared on Tuesday.

ATS-SDA/sb

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