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Catholic church apologises for sex attacks

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08:23 CEST+02:00
Sweden's Catholic church has apologised for sex attacks against a child that were committed by a priest 50 years ago. The apology emerged in the form of an advertisement in the newspapers Göteborgs-Posten and Dagen.

The attacks are said to have taken place over a period of a couple of years at the end of the 1950s. When the victim tried to draw attention to what was happening the church protected the priest and the case was hushed up.

The victim, who has requested complete anonymity, reported the crime to the Catholic diocese in Stockholm at the end of 2005 and demanded a public apology from the church.

"What's happened has happened and it can't be magicked away," said bishop Anders Arborelius to Göteborgs-Posten.

"But it is always our hope that the victims wounds can be somewhat healed."

Church spokesman Jorge de Salas told Dagen that he did not believe the problem was widespread in Sweden.

"Life in Sweden has been very calm and we have been spared from paedophilia and the other problems within the church that they have had in other countries," he said.

De Salas distanced the Swedish experience from the widely-reported abuses in the American Catholic church over the last 50 years.

"The big problem in the USA has been that some bishops reacted wrongly. Instead of firing the guilty priests, they thought that the problem could be solved through professional therapy," he said.

"Paedophiles active in one congregation moved after rehabilitation to another. Some stopped their attacks but others continued."

The time period in which the Swedish priest could have been prosecuted has long expired.

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