The Catholic bishops in the Netherlands have offered “sincere apologies” to more than 20,000 victims of sexual abuse in the Netherlands.
Archbishop of Utrecht Wim Eijk apologised to victims on behalf of the entire Dutch Catholic church.
He said the report “fills us with shame and sorrow.”
Eijk’s apology comes after a damning report into sexual abuse was released on Saturday which confirmed more than 800 priests, brothers and lay people in Catholic organizations abused as many as 20,000 children in their care between 1945 and 1985.
Based on a survey among more than 34,000 people, the commission estimated that one in 10 Dutch children suffered some form of abuse “broadly in society” and the number doubled if they spent time in a youth institution such as a school or orphanage, whether Catholic or not.
The Deetman Commission concluded knowledge of the abuse was widespread and it accused dioceses, religious orders and local church communities of failing to help victims and take action against the abusers.
- names 800 alleged abusers
- identifies 105 who are still alive
- says some 2,000 victims came forward to make official complaints
- 1,800 of the complains could be classed as “very serious”.
According to report author, former education minister Wim Deetman, nothing was done to prevent the scandal, church authorities preferring a “culture of silence”.
Deetman said there was an unwillingness to “hang out their dirty washing”.
With lay people also identified as having offended, Deetman told a press conference in the Hague that celibacy was not a critical element in the abuse, rather labeling it “an additional risk factor”.
“The idea that people did not now there was a risk … is untenable,” Deetman said.
The abuse continued in part because the Catholic church in the Netherlands was splintered, so bishops and religious orders sometimes worked autonomously to deal with abuse.
Victims’ organization Klook said the Deetman Commission report was even more shocking than they had expected.
Deetman told the ABC that he did not know how many of the accused were still working for the Church and it was up to prosecutors to decide if the surviving alleged abusers should face criminal charges.
News category: World.