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Swedish Catholic Church hid sex abuse claims

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09:47 CEST+02:00
The Catholic Church in Sweden has known for twenty years of claims that two young girls were sexually abused by a priest in the 1950s and 1960s, Dagens Nyheter reports.

In 1990 one of the two sisters, now in her sixties, contacted the former bishop of Stockholm, Hubertus Brandeburg, to inform him of the girls' abuse at the hands of a priest. At the time the church was investigating other charges relating to the same priest, including accusations from the girls' mother that she and the priest had a sexual relationship from 1958 to 1990.

"He became irritated and I became angry. The answer I got was pretty much, 'we're conducting our own investigation within the church and it's not something we're planning to talk about," the woman told Dagens Nyheter.

Bishop Brandenburg died last year.

The woman also got in touch with a Catholic newspaper in Sweden, which she said did not take her allegations seriously.

In 2003 the woman contacted the current bishop, Anders Arborelius, to tell him about the priest's sexual relationship with her mother and his sexual abuse of the two girls.

She later wrote an email to the church detailing the same accusations, to which she received a reply advising her to seek out a conversational therapist.

At the beginning of last week, with church sex abuse scandals back in the news worldwide, the woman contacted Bishop Arborelius again. This time, the Catholic Church publicly acknowledged the accusations and vowed to launch a full inquiry.

"I was treated very well by Bishop Anders. He means well and he's understanding. But I didn't get an answer as to why they've only started talking about this now," she told Dagens Nyheter.

The accused remains a priest but has been transferred to different parishes several times since the 1960s, a pattern typical for clergymen accused of abuses. The findings of the investigation into the charges against him are to be forwarded to the Vatican and could result in him being dismissed from the clergy.

The priest refused to comment on the accusations or the investigation when contacted by Dagens Nyheter.

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