Swiss Catholic bishops admit sex abuse underestimated

Swiss Catholic bishops admit sex abuse underestimated Bern: Swiss Roman Catholic bishops admitted on Wednesday that they had underestimated the extent of sexual abuse by the clergy and called on any victims to seek prosecution.

"We humbly admit that we underestimated the extent of the situation," the Swiss bishop's conference said in a statement.

"Those in charge of the diocese and religious orders made mistakes."

The leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Switzerland called on "all those who have suffered abuse" to approach special clergy offices that deal with such complaints and "if the need arises, to press charges."

Allegations of sexual molestation by priests have piled up across Europe after episodes of child abuse were exposed in Ireland.

The Swiss bishop's conference said earlier this month it was examining at least nine "serious" cases of suspected sexual abuse or harassment in recent years, four of which involved children.

In recent years the Church in Switzerland has set up dedicated offices to encourage reporting of sexual impropriety by priests, investigate allegations, and ensure care for victims.

However, a leading Swiss priest has called on the Vatican to set up an international register of Roman Catholic clergy who have been reported for sex abuse, since many priests switch diocese or countries.