“The prosecution and the cantonal police confirm the opening of criminal proceedings against an 80-year-old Swiss priest who lives in the Lugano region,” the authorities said in a dry press release on Saturday evening. Only five minutes later, the diocese of Lugano also confirmed the investigation, which local media in Ticino had already informed of this afternoon.
The priest allegedly committed a criminal offense against a 48-year-old woman. The woman apparently lived with him, but did not have a legal residence permit. Authorities are investigating, among other things, kidnappings and coercion, as well as simple bodily injuries due to negligence. He was taken into police custody and his home searched by investigators. It is the presumption of innocence.
No minors involved
According to information from the Ticino daily “La Regione”, the priest arrested is the former vicar general of the diocese of Lugano. Originally from Davos, he studied theology in Rome and Freiburg and was appointed rector of the theological faculty of Lugano in 2008. He has been active in various committees, mainly in interreligious dialogue between Catholics, Protestants and Jews.
The diocese of Lugano adds in its communication: “In this case, no minor is involved. The Curia of Lugano works with the investigators. “The mandatory judge must now decide whether the 80-year-old will remain in detention.
The news hit like a bomb
The news hit Ticino like a bomb, as the arrested former Vicar General is well known and popular among intellectuals. Reactions on social media were speechless. “I’m shocked. He was an open, sensitive, very pastoral theologian,” a former vicar general of a Swiss-German diocese told the Catholic news portal kath.ch.
This is the second criminal investigation to shake the diocese of Lugano this year. At the end of May, a priest was arrested on suspicion of sexual abuse. The bishop of Lugano, Valerio Lazzeri, had announced it personally during a press conference at the Curia.