Vatican appoints special investigator following allegations of massive cover-up by Swiss Bishops

Six Swiss bishops are accused of a cover-up. The accusations are so massive that the Vatican has appointed Bishop Joseph Bonnemain as special investigator. He is investigating his confreres Jean-Marie Lovey, Charles Morerod, Alain de Raemy and Jean-Claude Périsset. The Swiss Bishops' Conference confirms the ongoing investigations in a media release.

The accusations are massive. Six bishops are alleged to have actively covered up cases of abuse. One bishop is himself accused of abusing a minor. The allegations have been published by SonntagsBlick. Nicolas Betticher (62), former vicar general of the diocese of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg, raised them in a letter to the apostolic nuncio Martin Krebs (66) in May 2023. The latter called in the Vatican, which commissioned Bishop Joseph Bonnemain to investigate the allegations.

The accusations

The letter from Nicolas Betticher is available to SonntagsBlick. It contains serious accusations. An active member of the Swiss Bishops' Conference and three priests in the dioceses of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg are accused of sexually molesting young people.

Nicolas Betticher has written to the Nuncio.

There are also accusations of cover-up. These are directed against Jean-Marie Lovey (73). The Bishop of Sion is said to have taken no steps to clear up abuse after it was reported. Bishop Charles Morerod (61) is also again confronted with allegations of abuse. He is said to have learned of a case of abuse as early as 2011. Instead of intervening, Bishop Morerod later promoted the priest. Auxiliary Bishop Alain de Raemy (64) is also said to have known about the cases.

Cover-up allegations

There are also allegations of a cover-up against a former auxiliary bishop who later served as bishop of Reykjavik (Iceland) and apostolic administrator in Chur. According to SonntagsBlick, the latter denies the accusations and is threatening the newspaper with a libel suit.

Bishop Jean-Marie Lovey allegedly covered up.

Jean-Claude Périsset (84), bishop and former Vatican diplomat, is also accused of a cover-up. He is said to have transferred an abuser to France at the end of the 1980s. In an interview with SonntagsBlick, Périsset denies the accusations. He says that canon law was different back then.

Special Vatican investigator

The accusations are so serious that the Vatican feels compelled to act. Pope Francis appointed Bishop Joseph Bonnemain (75) of Chur as special investigator on 23 June. The Swiss Bishops' Conference confirmed this in a media release on Sunday morning.

Bishop Joseph Bonnemain is the Vatican's special investigator.

In an interview with SonntagsBlick, Bonnemain says that he is not biased, but strives to "find out the truth completely and precisely". According to the Bishop of Chur, all the accused are still holding their offices. In the interview Bonnemain says: "We must bring everything to light. The cover-up must come to an end. This is another contribution so that our Church can become more honest."



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