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Rotterdam bishop knew about abuse

Friday 26 March 2010

Rotterdam bishop Ad van Luyn knew about several cases of sexual abuse of children at Catholic boarding schools run by the Salesian order, a spokesman for the bishop told the NRC and Dutch world service radio RNW.

Van Luyn was head of the Salesian order from 1975 to 1981. The bishop was aware of 'several concrete cases' and 'had to take action', the spokesman said.

It is the first time the bishop has admitted knowing about the abuse. He declined to make any further comment pending the outcome of an independent inquiry into abuse at Catholic schools and seminaries nationwide.

Claims rising

Since the NRC and RNW broke the scandal at the end of last month, over 1,100 reports of abuse have been made to the church authorities. The NRC has had 128 reports from people who were abused by priests, monks and nuns while under their care.

Meanwhile, foreign minister Maxime Verhagen said cardinal Ad Simonis totally missed the point when he used the German phrase 'Wir haben es nicht gewusst' (we did not know) about the growing sexual abuse scandal.

The phrase was used by Germans after World War II as the horror of the Nazi concentration camps unfolded. But the phrase is seen an excuse for a lack of action. This could be seen to imply the church authorities did have their suspicions.

The Dutch bishops conference has stressed Simonis was speaking personally, not as a representative of the church.

© DutchNews.nl


Readers' Comments

If executives from a large multi-national corporation were aware of sexual abuse caused by employees and did nothing, wouldn't they go to jail? Isn't this Corporate Criminal Liability ala the "Enron scandal"?

Article 51 of the Dutch Criminal Code allows that charges may be brought against corporations for nearly any offense. Corporations are held liable as soon as they are able to determine whether an employee performed a particular act and when the corporation has accepted the act or its benefits. In the Netherlands, the corporation’s executives and the directors can be punished as well.

Surely abuse by priests and nuns was ‘normal company policy’ within the Catholic church, and nothing was done to stop it. Clearly management (bishops, etc.) were aware of criminal sexual abuse (or have potentially been in a position to be aware of it), and must have deliberately accepted those risks (corporate intent), or recklessly neglected to address the problem (corporate negligence).

By Quest | 26 March 2010 3:31 PM

It is now obvious that these monstrous crimes were not only a world-wide phenomenon, they were deliberately and systematically hidden from legal authorities. The Church chose to protect its own rather than the innocent children who were victimized by its own gouls.

These crimes cry to heaven for justice.
Where warranted, we should issue arrest warrants for everyone involved up to and including the pope himself.

"We did not know" is no more valid an excuse than it was at Nuremberg.

By Ron Slade Sr. | 26 March 2010 5:08 PM

Where are the POLICE in all this? Out of the thousands (at least) of allegations worldwide, only a small handful seem to have resulted in police involvement and arrests.
Sounds fishy to me.

By John Booker | 26 March 2010 11:10 PM

Hi Quest: nice corporate comparison. However, religion is a business where there are only corporate rights, not coprorate responsibilities.

By Vogon Poet | 27 March 2010 5:08 PM

It really disturbs me but I must admit none of this actually surprises me at all. The church has a lot of dirty laundry that has been hidden for decades and they have no intention of making it public. Quite disgusting on all levels.

By bobke | 28 March 2010 3:12 PM

The church has ALWAYS thought itself immune to the laws of the world..It's about time that the world goverments hold the Catholic Church accountable for the terrible crimes made by their priests and nuns. As stated before, if it was anyone else, even a goverment offical, justice would be served. Perhaps the priests should be housed together so they could take out their sexual frustrations on each other...if the like the young and smoothe then let them "shave"...pffft

By martin | 29 March 2010 10:41 AM

Leo Taxil in his "Les Pornographes sacrés: la confession et les confesseurs" (1879) described it all. Where we have been all this time before? Dont you see, you are allowed to?...

By nik | 29 March 2010 9:24 PM

Don't expect much sympathy for the victims. After all, the Ouderkerk in Amsterdam was funded by prostitution in the early days of the church. There are still brothels on what was once church property and was church property where the prostitutes who funded the church worked and lived. I bet the only thing the Catholic church will be found guilty of will be not charging for the fondling of little boys and giving the money to the church and the royal cowards (family).

By Tim Lee | 12 April 2010 2:41 PM

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