Swedish Catholic Church apologizes publicly for sexual abuse

The Times of India/July 20, 2007

Stockholm: Sweden's Catholic Church, which has 150,000 members in a country of nine million, on Friday apologized publicly to a Swede who was sexually abused by a Catholic priest in the 1950s.

The Church took out an advertisement in the Gothenburg regional daily Goeteborgs-Posten and the Christian daily Dagen where it apologized to the victim. The text was signed by the current bishop of Stockholm Anders Arborelius.

"It is deeply regrettable that one of our priests could have subjected a child to abuse. As the bishop of the diocese I apologize for what has happened and hope that the various measures the diocese has taken in recent years can prevent abuse in the future," he wrote.

The advertisement was published on page 12, alongside an article about the apology. The victim had demanded a public apology from the Church.

The victim, whose name and gender were not disclosed, was abused as a child over the course of several years in the late 1950s. When the child raised the issue at the time, the priest was protected and the abuse was kept quiet by the Church, the newspaper wrote.

The victim finally reported the abuse to the Stockholm diocese in December 2005.

"As this concerns traumatic experiences, it can take a long time before a person finally chooses to speak out," Arborelius told the newspaper in the accompanying article.

"The events marked this person's life and caused enormous damage. We have the impression that this person has suffered immensely," he said.

Arborelius said the case was the only one he knew of in Sweden involving abuse within the Catholic Church.

The apology came just days after the Roman Catholic Church in Los Angeles agreed to pay a record 660 million dollars to sexual abuse victims of its priests.

This followed earlier large compensation agreements in the US Catholic abuse scandal which involved thousands of priests and church officials.

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