Dutch Catholic sexual abuse scandal snowballs: Investigation called for
Like the German revelations which erupted into public view in late January, this is snowballing as “the first testimonies of possible abuse at the hands of the Salesians in the 1960s and 1970s,” first reported by NRC Handelsblad last week, provokes others to break their long silence.
Because the problem is believed to have been widespread, and involved the current bishop of Rotterdam, Ad van Luyn, Dutch elected officials are calling for an independent inquiry, reports Radio Netherlands:
Conservative MP and former public prosecutor Fred Teeven told NOS Radio, “Normally in such cases, there would be a police and justice investigation. But you can’t do that now because the statute of limitation says the crimes are too long ago. In this case it would be wise if a team of experienced sex crime detectives is appointed in collaboration with the Roman Catholic Church, in order to conduct an independent investigation into what happened.”
Following the revelations on Friday, Bishop Van Luijn of Rotterdam also said he wanted to launch an investigation. Bishop Van Luijn is currently chairman of the Dutch bishops conference. He was a teacher at the ‘s-Heerenberg school at the time of the abuse and he later became head of the Salesian order in the Netherlands. Immediately after the revelations a spokesperson from the bishop’s palace turned down pleas for an inquiry, saying that it was up to the current head of the school to account for what may have happened, but Bishop Van Luijn said on Sunday he was appalled by the findings of the reporters.
Christian Democrat MP Marleen De Pater told NOS Radio that she first wants to see the results of Bishop Van Luijn’s inquiry before deciding on the next step. She appeared reluctant to involve the police or legal authorities from the outset.
Ms De Pater said, “Bishop Van Luijn is taking the initiative to scrutinise his own organisation to find out what happened. That is a display of responsible behaviour, and I assume he will engage independent experts. On the basis of their findings we could decide whether more research is needed with the involvement of police and legal authorities.”
The Irish did “more research” and found a sweeping, decades deep breach of trust by the Catholic Church — part of what is ever more clearly an unresolved, multinational issue. Reluctant apologies for the long-concealed horrors, unaccepted.
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