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Efforts to combat sex abuse delayed by Catholic Church

Conference president Amédée Grab (left) and general secretary Agnell Rickenmann said more time was needed to set up the task force

(Keystone)

Hopes that the Catholic Church in Switzerland would take quick action to combat paedophilia by clergymen have suffered a setback.

The Swiss Bishops' Conference said on Thursday that plans to create a task force aimed at tackling sex abuse of children by priests had been put on hold.

The news comes two-and-a-half months after the bishops announced the creation of the task force, saying it was proof that they "are taking the matter [of paedophilia by priests] very seriously indeed."

A senior official of the Swiss Bishops' Conference, Agnell Rickenmann, said the task force was not yet ready. He said the exact mandate and personnel issues had to be further examined, before the advisory panel could become operational in September.

In the wake of a paedophile scandal which came to light in March, the Catholic Church announced it would form a panel, made up of lawyers, psychologists and priests, who will assist bishops in preventing abuse of children or deal with such cases when they emerge.

Addressing a news conference on Thursday, Rickenmann said the decision to delay the task force was also taken because of limited financial and staff resources within the administration of the Catholic Church.

Publication in September

The Swiss bishops also decided to postpone the publication of a document on the issue of paedophilia and other forms of sex abuse.

Rickenmann said it was crucial to consider legal, psychological and human aspects of the problems before the document is released.

He reiterated that Swiss bishops were taking the matter very seriously and that they addressed the problem of paedophilia before a serious case of sex abuse by a parish priest was discovered in eastern Switzerland in March.

The 63-year old priest resigned after allegations that he molested children. He agreed to go prison even before the case is heard in court.

swissinfo with agencies

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