Swiss Priests Face Test to Head Off Sexual Abuse

Would-be Roman Catholic priests in Switzerland will undergo rigorous psychological tests to weed out potential sexual predators under new guidelines put forward by their bishops on Thursday.

The measure is part of new rules to prevent sexual abuse by the clergy amid a series of high-profile abuse cases that have rocked the Catholic church, especially in the United States.

Amadee Grab, president of the Swiss Bishops Conference, said the measures would not resolve the problem of sexual abuse by priests but added: "I am convinced the measures we have adopted are a good basis. Competence and sensitivity are also needed."

The church will also put more emphasis on making seminarians come to grips with their sexuality before they are allowed to enter the priesthood.

Swiss bishops began drafting the rules two years ago, even before problems of pedophile priests in the United States started to make headlines and damage the church's image.

The guidelines focus on preventing any recurrence of abuse, refusing to sweep cases under the rug, and helping victims.

The Swiss bishops have formed an 11-member task force made up of lawyers, psychologists and priests, which will discuss with bishops ways to prevent abuse of minors by members of the church and how best to deal with cases when they emerge.

Officials have said the task force plan was agreed months ago and was not the result of a case that emerged this year of a 63-year-old priest who resigned after he had molested children.