Roermond bishop suggests a patron saint of sexual abuse victims

The Catholic bishop of Roermond has suggested a Limburg church official who was murdered in China in 1937 could be declared the patron saint of sexual abuse victims.

Frans Schraven, who was bishop of Zhengding at the time, refused to hand several hundred Chinese women over to the Japanese occupiers to work as prostitutes.

The women were under the protection of the Catholic authorities at the time. The Japanese authorities left the women alone but Schraven and eight other Catholics were then executed.


This weekend, the Dutch Catholic church’s documentation on Schraven was taken to the Vatican where pope Francis will decide if he should be beatified.

Roermond bishop Franz Wiertz, who supports the beatification drive, suggested in a sermon on Friday that Schraven could eventually become the patron saint of abuse victims.

Wiertz referred to the number of cases of sexual abuse within the church which have come to light in recent years and said Schraven was an example to everyone.

‘Bishop Schraven showed us that the church always needs people who follow the right road, who condemn abuse and who are willing to give up their own lives if necessary,’ he said.


If pope Francis rules that bishop Schraven died as a martyr he can be beatified without the need for any miracles. Martyrs are required to have one rather than two miracles to their name to reach full sainthood.

In Catholicism, beatification is the third of the four steps in the process of becoming a saint. A person who is beatified is given the title ‘blessed’ and is said to have the capacity to intercede on behalf of individuals who pray in his or her name.

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