Dutch Salesian leader “on leave”

The head of the Dutch Salesian order, Father Herman Spronck, has been placed on “administrative leave” for his part in a Dutch Catholic pedophile scandal.

Over the weekend, Spronck, known as the Delegate, said that sexual relationships between children and adults were not always damaging.

“Formally I always say that everyone must obey the law. But these relationships do not necessarily have to be damaging.” Nieuws quoted Spronck as saying.

Spronck was commenting on another Salesian priest’s committee membership in “Martijn”, a Dutch pro-pedophilia group.

RTL quoted Spronck, Fr Van B.’s superior —  as saying he was aware of repeated transgressions in Van B.’s past. However he didn’t try to stop him from moving through three dioceses and six parishes in the Netherlands, often leaving under a cloud of suspicion, because he believed in the priest’s promises to reform.

“Herman Spronck is no longer the delegate from the Salesian delegation in the Netherlands,” his superior Rev. Jos Claes, leader of the Salesians in Belgium and the Netherlands, told RTL. “We fully distance ourselves from the words we find in your interview with Herman Spronck.”

Fr Van B “can longer perform any pastoral duties as of today,” he added.

The Salesian priest, simply known as Fr Van B, was a committee member of the “Martijn” association and also has two convictions for exposing himself to children. Although suspended from ministry, he worked as a “volunteer” helping prepare children for the first Holy Communion.

An independent commission investigating abuse cases dating back to 1945 has found that the Netherlands ranks worst behind only Ireland in a scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church in Europe and the United States.


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