Inquiry cites almost 2,000 Dutch Catholic sex abuse reports
Almost 2,000 people have declared themselves this year victims of sexual and physical abuse while they were minors in the care of the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands, an independent commission said on Thursday.
(Photo: Wim Deetman, 1 Jan 2006/Roel Wijnants)
The investigation into abuses dating back to 1945 shows that the Netherlands ranks second worst behind Ireland for known cases in scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church in Europe and the United States. The church-appointed commission’s findings were requested by the Dutch bishops’ conference after cases surfaced involving paedophile priests in the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, Germany and other countries.
“I am very respectful of the people who came forward because declaring yourself a victim is a big step,” said Wim Deetman, a Protestant former education minister and former mayor of The Hague who heads the commission, of the 1,975 reported cases.
Asked whether the report could lead to pressure for a shake-up in the church hierarchy, Deetman said: “It is too soon to say that. We will see that at the end of next year after discussions with a lot of people. But the bishops conference has asked us to look at managerial responsibilities.”
Deetman said the Church had waited too long to come up with a professional approach to complaints about abuse and urged it to set up an effective system of financial compensation for the victims, a special organisation to assist them and Church disciplinary action if needed.
The full report (in Dutch) is in PDF here.