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Commission identifies 800 priests, monks who abused children

Friday 16 December 2011


At least 800 Roman Catholic priests and monks were involved in abusing children in their care between 1945 and 1985, according to a comprehensive report into the church sexual abuse scandal published on Friday.

In addition, church officials, bishops and lay people were aware of what was going on but failed to take action to protect children, the commission, lead by former Christian Democratic party chairman Wim Deetman, said.

The commission was set up by the Catholic church in March 2010 after the sexual abuse scandal broke in the Netherlands and hundreds of victims came forward. Over 2,000 people have now registered their abuse with the authorities and a number of cases will be taken to court.

The 1,100-page report aims to establish the size of the scandal, the consequences of the church's silence and make recommendations for dealing with abuse in the past and in the future.


In its report, the commission says it has identified at least 800 priests, monks and other members of religious orders who were involved in abuse, of whom 105 are still alive. The commission did not say how many of them are still working for the church.

'To prevent scandals, nothing was done: [the abuse was] not acknowledged, there was no help, compensation or aftercare for the victims,' the report says. There was a policy of 'not hanging out the dirty washing,' Deetman told a news conference on Friday morning.

There is a 'cultural silence', Deetman said. There were rules for dealing with abuse and in some places they were enacted. The claim that church officials did not know what was going on does not hold water, Deetman said.


In total, several tens of thousands of children were faced with unwanted sexual contact from church officials between 1945 and 1985, Deetman said.

A survey by the commission shows that one in 10 people who were children during that period had to deal with abuse or potential abuse, but within church institutions the figure was one in five, the report said.

However, there is no difference between abuse within church and other institutions, the report shows.

Another commission, lead by senior justice ministry official Rieke Samson-Geerlings, is looking into the role of social services in placing children in institutions and foster homes where they were open to abuse.


While there is no scientific proof of a link between Catholic church celibacy rules and the sexual abuse of children, according to church records, some of the instances of abuse could be described as 'out of sexual need', Deetman said.

'We do not consider it impossible that a number of cases would not have happened if celibacy was voluntary,' he told the news conference.

In November, bishops and church officials voted in favour of giving compensation to hundreds of victims of sexual abuse. The total bill for the church could be as high as €5m.

In a statement later on Friday, Catholic bishops said they were shocked and shamed by the report.

Photo: Novum/Bart Maat

Earlier stories
Catholic church knew of the abuse for decades
Church agrees to compensation sexual abuse victims
Catholic church admits abuse, prepares compensation
Dutch Salesian church sacked for paedophilia comments
Bishop says sexual abuse was not an issue until 1990s
Church abuse: commission calls for better registration
Catholic priest was member of paedophile promotion group
Church abuse: 'Wir haben es nicht gewusst'

© DutchNews.nl


Readers' Comments

"While there is no scientific proof of a link between Catholic church celibacy rules and the sexual abuse of children"

However, is there any statistical proof that sexual deviants are drawn to the church? Is there a higher fraction of deviants within the church than within society at large?

It's a shame that these criminals won't face prosecution, like they should. I have no faith in afterlife karmal retribution.

By H. | 16 December 2011 11:37 AM

"as high as €5m"? Are you kidding me?! Been to the Vatican lately? It should be as high as €5bn.

By Gavin | 16 December 2011 5:50 PM

The sad part is that these abuses by priest and monks still continue behind closed doors. To prevent scandals and public scrutiny still 'Nothing is done by not hanging out the dirty washing.' Compensation doesn't always fix the years of psychological and physical abuse done to these young children. Hard to believe any Catholic bishops, priests, or monks being shocked by news of the sexual abuse they were aware of and hiding for decades. Ashamed - they well should be -hiding such child abuse in the house (church) of God. Nothing will change until they correct the mistakes they’ve consciously ignored for years.

By Marion | 16 December 2011 11:34 PM

Shame-yes, They should be ashamed. Sorrow? Sorrow for knowing the truth for years and hoping it will somehow magically disappear or regretting that the truth behind hundreds of sexual abuses were made public causing a church scandal that they've hidden so well for so long. I'd think it was the latter.

By Paul | 16 December 2011 11:41 PM

Now that they have identified 800 priests and monks, when are they going to be arrested as they should be?

By Quest | 18 December 2011 4:11 PM

Face facts: the church has been protected by the government for years. As soon as this scandal has died down, more palms will be crossed with silver again, and the disgusting underage sex will continue until the next scandal occurs in the media!! right?

By The visitor | 18 December 2011 11:41 PM

Catholics don't worship and follow God, which is too difficult. They worship bishops, who lead them by committing the most cowardly, deviant, reprehensible crime. Catholics then compare themselves to these "false idols" and think, "I'm not as bad as these bishops, so I must be going to heaven if they are".

God wants you to follow God and throw these false idols out of the church.

By Patrick OMalley | 19 December 2011 3:49 PM

Justice won't be done until they receive the penalty they deserve for their crimes. Otherwise, its just news that will soon be forgotten except for the victims who suffered the abuse for years in silence. Serve justice for the victims and not let these 800 priests, monks go free without any penalty for raping innocent children in their care.

By Jan | 19 December 2011 5:08 PM

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