Dutch newspaper, radio investigation uncovers clerical abuse in Dutch schools

Via NRC Handelsblad:

Amid the high-profile child sexual abuse scandals in the United States and other European countries, the reputation of the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands has remained unsullied. A joint investigation by NRC Handelsblad and Radio Netherlands Worldwide shows this is unjustified.

At the boarding school in ’s-Heerenberg, 80 to 100 boys between the ages of 12 and 18 slept in four large dormitories. “Sometimes you knew for sure: there’s something going on between that boy and that priest,” said Geraets. It happened on a large scale. Several of the priests were involved. Some priests were more popular than others. You could tell because more boys visited them.” The priest who abused him is now 98 years old. “Everything I held sacred turned out to be a facade,” said [Janne] Geraets. “It was a huge blow to my self-confidence.”

Sexual abuse of children by priests has been brought to light in a number of countries, but the recent apologies from the Vatican are “too little too late”, said Yvo van Kuijck. He is the former chairman of the independent Assessment and Advisory Committee which cooperates with the Netherlands’ hotline for reporting sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Since it was set up in 1995, the hotline has received almost 300 reports of sexual abuse. “It has taken too long for the Church to apologise and take action,” van Kuijck said. “The Dutch bishops adopted the same ‘wait and see’ approach. I didn’t get the impression that dealing with sexual abuse was a priority for them.”

Two years ago, dissatisfied with the attitude taken by the Dutch bishops, Kuijck resigned along with his entire committee, because they learned priests guilty of abuse in one parish were simply transferred to another parish where they were free to find new victims. “Not only is that unprofessional, it’s inconceivable,” said Van Kuijck, who is now vice-president of the district court in Arnhem.

In Europe, the church is already dealing with widespread accusations of abuse by clerical and lay employees in Ireland and Germany. This week, a lay employee close to the pope was implicated in a possibly coercive gay prostitution ring during the process of an unrelated investigation of corruption in the Holy See’s Public Works Department.


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