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Switzerland: Historian Sharply Criticizes Report Accusing the Church

Under the title: “The ‘Church scandal’ is an academic scandal,” published on September 27, 2023 in the German-speaking newspaper Die Weltwoche, Christoph Mörgeli, historian, specializing in the history of medicine, strongly attacks the published report by the University of Zurich on abuses which implicates bishops in particular.

The subtitle of the article is quite explicit and speaks of “exaggerated” cases and “fantastic pseudo-studies.” And faced with the media’s outburst against the Catholic Church, the self-flagellation of the bishops, and the improbable demands of Felix Gmür, the author wonders above all what is the cause of all this agitation.

Mr. Mörgeli notes that the Swiss bishops paid 377,000 Swiss francs for this “pilot report,” “before being taken to the slaughterhouse.” The authors wanted to “lay the foundations” for three years of additional research, which will provide them with an additional 1.13 million francs.

He then notes that the report was able to “‘prove’ 1,002 cases of sexual abuse in the environment of the Catholic Church.” But “no evidence, let alone a list of cases, appears in the report.” Furthermore, there are no legal criteria to define “cases of abuse.” Rights and law play no role in this publicly staged morality tribunal.

Furthermore, the authors of the report admit to a certain incompetence: “The Catholic Church, with its customs, its traditions, and its hierarchies, constituted an ‘unknown framework’ for them.” Mr. Mörgeli subtly notes: “Such ignorance, naively declared, resembles that of a surgeon who announces before the operation that he has no idea of human anatomy.”

The historian recognizes “that sexual abuse within the meaning of the law, both inside and outside ecclesiastical structures, is a shameful crime – treated as such in secular criminal law as well as in ecclesiastical criminal law.” And therefore, “The fact that the Catholic Church concealed, covered up, and transferred these affairs can and must be investigated.”

But he notes that “the so-called ‘quantity’ of 1,002 cases of a totally different nature should be approached in a scientific manner and differentiated accordingly.” In the report, “‘abusive verbal behavior,’ which hardly constitutes an offense, is included as part of ‘the sexual abuse cases.’”

An example of the inconsistency: “Since the diocese of Lugano did not find what it was looking for, it undertook research in non-ecclesiastical archives, unlike all the other dioceses. This is clearly an unjustifiable methodological inconsistency. Why is Ticino treated differently than the dioceses of German-speaking Switzerland and French-speaking Switzerland?”

Mr. Mörgeli continues: “A scientific study must be based on facts and not on rumors of some kind of ‘research on dark numbers’ (page 15 of the report).” On average, around 15 “cases” of this type occur each year in the Catholic community in Switzerland.

Over the last 70 years – which is the subject of the report – “2,150 diocesan priests have been in the ministry” in Switzerland. And on average, there have been “1,471 members of male religious orders and, even today, 2,250 members of female religious orders.” The study also identifies the management staff of ecclesiastical institutions as potential perpetrators.

However, notes the historian, “As part of their work, the authors identified 510 ‘accused’ (and not guilty!) among the 1,619 current Catholic parishes – there were significantly more numerous previously.” The question arises: How can we speak of “the omnipresence of the problem” in the face of these figures, as the report does?

And he recalls that “the danger represented by fathers and uncles is clearly greater than that represented by priests.” Then comes the accusation: “The fact is that the University of Zurich’s study has independently decided on its own definition of what are ‘cases of sexual abuse.’”

The reason is that “the authors of the report do not limit themselves to criminal law, but also include obvious non-criminal acts in their statistics. Given that the study takes into account these non-crimes, the number of actual crimes is necessarily lower than the 1,002 cases mentioned.”

The consequence is obvious: “The study does not indicate the relationship between the offenses and other alleged ‘cases of abuse.’ Why does it not do it ? Is this now called science? And is such a work worth 377,000 francs?”

The journalist-historian wonders: “How many real crimes remain out of the 1,002 ‘abuse cases’ announced? We don’t know, because the supposedly scientific study keeps it secret.” As for him, according to the published figures, he estimates them at “a little more than seven ‘cases’ per year.” There would therefore be 0.004 potential crimes per Catholic parish each year. “However, this seems less sexy than the headline ‘1,002 cases of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church,’” he notes.

Mr. Mörgeli finally puts the report into perspective: “There is no doubt that the danger posed by fathers and uncles in terms of sexual abuse is significantly greater than that posed by priests. Abuse is also much more common in sports clubs, youth groups, and at school.”

This former student and professor at the University of Zurich fires an arrow: “A study on sexual abuse by those in power committed over the last seventy years by professors at the University of Zurich against students and employees who depend on them should also provide astonishing figures.”

The conclusion is scathing: “What is offered to the public here is a para-jurisdiction disguised as serious historical science, without taking into account legal norms and bypassing our authorities. The presumption of guilt applies, no defense is provided.”

“The beneficiaries are the historians and their seminars, the breathless journalists, as well as the lawyers and public relations consultants with smug smiles.… The fact that the University of Zurich sponsors such a project should be considered an abuse of the alma mater.”

Source: Fsspx News



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