Dutch church sexually abused thousands -commission

AMSTERDAM, (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of  children have been victims of sexual abuse by the Roman Catholic  Church in the Netherlands since 1945, an independent commission  said today, criticising what it called the church’s cover-up  and cultural silence.
The commission estimated that 10,000 to 20,000 minors were  sexually abused while in the care of Catholic institutions such  as orphanages, boarding schools and seminaries, between 1945 and  1981, with offences ranging from the very mild to the serious,  including rape. After 1981 there were few church-run homes for  minors.
It also said that from the end of World War Two until 2010,  “several tens of thousands of minors were subjected to mild,  serious and very serious forms of inappropriate sexual behaviour  in the Roman Catholic Church”.
But it said sexual abuse was no more prevalent in Catholic  institutions than in similar ones run by other groups.
“Sexual abuse of minors is widespread in Dutch society,” the  commission said.
Abuse by Catholic priests, laymen and laywomen was  systematically covered up by the church to protect its  reputation, the commission said, adding that the church was  guilty of “inadequate supervision” and “inadequate action”.
The findings appear to paint a picture of wider abuse in the  Netherlands even than in Ireland, in a scandal that has rocked  the Catholic Church in Europe and the United States and forced  Pope Benedict to apologise to victims of sexual abuse by  priests.
The investigation was commissioned by the Conference of  Bishops and the Dutch Religious Conference in 2010 after cases  surfaced involving paedophile priests in the Netherlands,  Belgium, Ireland, Germany, Australia, Canada and the United  States.
“The (religious) orders were dealing with cases. The idea  that people did not know it and administrators did not know it  cannot be maintained,” said Wim Deetman, a Protestant former  education minister and former mayor of The Hague who led the  commission.
The report criticised the church for protecting paedophile  priests as it tried to put the reputation of the church above  care and concern for the victims.
Most of the cases involved mild to moderate abuse, such as  touching, but it said that it estimated there were “several  thousand” instances of rape.
“Everyone can be shocked that this history has come in this  magnitude. Everyone can be taken aback that the Church has lied  about this and covered it up,” Guido Klabbers from the KLOKK  lobby group of child abuse victims told public broadcaster NOS.
The church is due to respond in a separate press conference  on Friday.


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