Catholic bishops in Switzerland have created a fund to help people sexually abused by clergy members in cases where the statute of limitations has passed, they said on Monday.
The Swiss Bishops Conference (SBK) said it had created a reparations fund worth 500,000 Swiss francs ($495,000, 462,000 euros) to be used to pay sex abuse victims who no longer have the right to seek redress in court.
"The responsible clergy believe that sex abuse victims in cases where the public statute of limitations has passed and where the Church has long turned a blind eye and provided no reparations, are in a particularly difficult situation," SBK said in a statement.
SBK said the fund was the latest step in a process it began six years ago when it acknowledged the Church held responsibility, after numerous cases of sexual molestation by priests decades earlier came to light.
The bishops announced the new fund after gathering on Monday in Sion in southern Switzerland for a "penance prayer" alongside a delegation of victims.
"A serious sin has been revealed during our time at the Church... This sin committed by some was made possible by certain structures and certain ways of behaving and thinking," Monseigneur Charles Morerod said in his prayer, quoted in the statement.
"The sin has several levels: the abusive act, the complicit silence, and the lack of assistance to the victims," he said.
Since 2010, SBK said 223 victims had informed the Church authorities of such cases of abuse, most of which had taken place between 1950 and 1990.
At least 49 of them were under the age of 12 when the abuse took place, SBK's statistics show.
SBK said that the new fund would be padded with contributions from the dioceses, and that an independent commission would decide on who should receive compensation, as well as the amounts to be handed out.