(Interior of the Dutch parliament building, 11 June 2007/Sisyfus)

The Dutch parliament on Tuesday called for an investigation into reports that Catholic clerics ordered castrations of young males in the 1950s in an attempt to cure their homosexuality. Dutch MPs raised questions in parliament over a weekend report in Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad saying boys from a Catholic boarding school had been castrated.

“All these horrible reports strengthen me to call for a parliamentary investigation and perhaps even an inquiry,” Labour member of parliament Khadija Arib said in a debate. The Dutch Catholic Church was willing to cooperate with an investigation to find out whether the media reports were true, a church spokesman said.

The NRC report cast doubt over the recent findings of an independent commission charged with investigating sex crimes within the church. The Deetman Commision, set up by two Catholic bodies, the Conference of Bishops and the Dutch Religious Conference, concluded last year that tens of thousands of children had been abused by Catholic clergy in the Netherlands since 1945.

NRC said the commission had heard allegations of castrations but omitted the subject from its report due to insufficient evidence. The newspaper said a young male named Henk Hethuis had been castrated on the instructions of Catholic priests in 1956 after he told police he was being sexually abused by priests. Hethuis and possibly up to 10 others had been castrated and told it would “cure” their homosexuality, it said.

The Deetman Commision investigation said on Dec. 16 that tens of thousands of chilren had been sexually abused in Catholic orphanages, boarding schools and seminaries between 1945 and 1981, with offences ranging from very mild to serious, including rape. It condemned what it called the church’s cover-up and culture of silence.