The Catholic church in Norway announced Friday that it’s now aware of six sexual assaults by priests, including the one revealed this week that resulted in last year’s quiet dismissal of the church’s bishop in Trondheim. Church officials won’t open its personnel archives, though, to investigators.
Oslo Bishop Bernt Eidsvig, who heads the Catholic church in Norway, held a press conference where he confirmed a report in newspaper VG that the church maintains an archive containing information on “sensitive” cases.
“I will make the police aware that I have an archive, but it won’t be opened,” Eidsvig said.
He has repeatedly defended his decision to remain quiet about the main reason former Trondheim Bishop Georg Müller was relieved of his duties last year: Müller, when confronted, had admitted sexually molesting an altar boy around 20 years ago, when he was a priest in Trondheim. The victim himself, now in his 30s, only revealed the assault early last year, and did not want Eidsvig or other church officials to report the matter to the police.
“The person this involved had already been let down by the church once,” said Eidsvig, adding that he wasn’t about to let him down again by betraying his trust through a police report.
Police are now investigating the case, however, and Müller, whose whereabouts remain unclear at present, faces charges.
Eidsvig said his archive now contains four cases after others have come forward with reports of sexual assault by priests. Two of the cases occurred in the 1950s, and the priestly offenders are now deceased. A third occurred in the 1980s and the alleged offender no longer lives or works in Norway. The fourth case, Eidsvig said, hasn’t been confirmed and is based on rumors.
In addition comes the case involving Müller and the attempted rape of a student priest in Porsgrunn by another priest. The alleged offender was transferred out of Porsgrunn.
Eidsvig said he sees a need for more openness within the Catholic church. He said he had tried to answer questions “as best I can” during the past difficult week.