Setting boundaries: Swiss priests will be sent to sex-ed class

 

At least 250 cases of sexual harassment within the Catholic Church in Switzerland have been reported since 2010, according to media reports

(Keystone)

The highest Catholic body in Switzerland plans to introduce sexual education courses for church representatives, according to Swiss media reports.

The Swiss Bishop’s Conference is taking this measure in a bid to prevent sexual abuse, according to the Sunday editions of SonntagsZeiting and Le Matin Dimanche.

Giorgio Prestele, president of a group of experts commissioned by the Bishops, envisions going further.

“I can also imagine that priests and lay theologians would have to undergo an assessment before being employed – as prospective priests before ordination – to evaluate how they deal with the subject of their own sexuality,” he said.

The Swiss Bishop’s Conference is expected to address sexual abuse prevention measures at a gathering starting on Monday in the northeastern city of St. Gallen.

Another topic up for discussion is the adoption of more stringent reporting obligations in the event of attacks.

The expert panel consulted by the Catholic body recommends that the existing guidelines be amended so that a complaint to the judiciary is mandatory at the first sign of offence.

To date, this obligation has been clearly formulated for cases concerning underage victims. The church has more margin to manoeuver when the victims are adults.

The Roman Catholic Church – including Pope Francis – has been accused of covering priestly abuse in the United States, Britain, Ireland, Chile, Australia, Germany and France for decades.

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