Sydney Morning Herald (smh.com.au)
Norway’s Catholic Church has been informed of seven new possible cases of paedophilia by priests, bringing the total number of suspected cases in the Scandinavian country to 18, media say.
The new complaints, all logged in the past week, were however not expected to immediately lead to legal proceedings.
“We have very little concrete information for the time being,” Church ethics council head Roennaug Aaberg Andresen told Adresseavisen, a local daily in the central city of Trondheim.
“It is up to the victim of sexual abuse or his or her relatives to decide whether or not to file charges with police. Some have said they are considering doing so,” she said.
Some of the latest accusations involved alleged cases of abuse some 50 years ago.
“Judging from the little I know, I do not think the received information involves people still active in the Catholic Church,” Andresen said.
The new abuse allegations surfaced just three weeks after revelations that a former Trondheim bishop, the German-born Georg Mueller, had abused a choirboy in the early 1990s, and that the Vatican had known but kept silent about the case since early last year.
Norwegian media also reported on Wednesday that a pastor in the country’s state-run protestant Evangelical Lutheran Church had been accused of sending mobile phone text messages of a sexual nature to three of his four children.
The man himself denied the allegations, his lawyer told the Verdens Gang daily.
In neighbouring Sweden meanwhile, a new case of alleged child abuse by a Catholic priest surfaced on Wednesday, bringing the total number there to five.
A 40-year-old woman told the Christian daily Dagen that she in the 1960s had been repeatedly sexually abused by a priest when she at the age of four lived at a Catholic orphanage.
At the weekend, Stockholm bishop Anders Arborelius said he was prepared to step down if it was determined he had not acted appropriately on learning of allegations that a priest abused two sisters in the 1950s and 60s.
The case was first reported to the Church in 1990, and Arborelius learned of it when he took over Sweden’s only Catholic diocese in 2003, but did not order an investigation until earlier this month, after two other cases surfaced.
The Roman Catholic Church is reeling from a string of damning revelations concerning child sexual abuse by Catholic priests in Ireland, Austria, Belgium, the United States and Pope Benedict XVI’s native Germany.