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Dutch Church promises action on clerical abuse

By on Monday, 13 December 2010

The Dutch bishops’ conference has pledged action after nearly 2,000 people complained of sexual abuse by Catholic priests during an inquiry by an independent commission.

The complaints, dating to 1945, were received by a Church-appointed commission established by the bishops to investigate abuse cases.

Pieter Kohnnen, spokesman for the Utrecht-based bishops’ conference, said: “We’re grateful to this commission for its prompt and professional recommendations, and we reiterate our condemnation of all forms of sexual abuse.

“When the bishops asked for this investigation, they stressed that helping victims should have absolute priority, and that the research should be transparent and independent. This is very important if the Church is to avoid future abuse,” he said.

Mr Kohnnen said the Catholic Church believed “excuses and apologies are not enough” and that “firm action” was needed.

“The Church has to take responsibility for what has happened. If the government or parliament say this isn’t enough, they have a right to take further action,” he said. “It’s understandable that there’s a lack of trust in the Church, and it won’t be easy to rebuild this at a fundamental level.”

The commission was headed by former education minister Wim Deetman, a Protestant. Addressing a news conference in the Hague, Mr Deetman said 1,975 people had filed claims of abuse – 100 times the usual annual number – since March when a wave of allegations broke against Catholic clergy.

He said was “very satisfied” with co-operation by Church officials. Several cases already have been referred to Dutch prosecutors, he added.

“Victims got in touch and told us their story. We’re grateful for that,” Mr Deetman said.

“I understand these victims. Some of them, many, have faced one disappointment after another for 39, 40 or 50 years and feel they’ve been banging their heads against the wall,” he said.

Claims of abuse by Dutch clergy surfaced in March when Salesian Fr Herman Spronck, the most senior member of his order in the Netherlands, agreed to investigate allegations relating to a Catholic monastery in the 1960s and 1970s.

The Deetman commission, established in August, collected testimonies in collaboration with the Church’s Hulp en Recht (“Help and Law”) organisation, which was established in 1995 by the Dutch bishops to help abuse victims.

In the commission’s findings, Mr Deetman said some abuse victims wanted financial compensation, while others favoured self-help groups to “ease the suffering”.

He also said that Hulp en Recht had failed to work properly with abuse victims and explained that the aim now should be to “regain trust and do justice to the victims” as well as make compensation available.

In his CNS interview, Kohnnen said the bishops’ conference had seen the commission findings just before the press conference and would meet to consider its consequences with leaders of religious orders and the executive board of Hulp en Recht.

Plans for implementing commission recommendations are scheduled for publication by the Church in mid-December and would include either a “drastic reorganisation” of Hulp en Recht or the creation of a “completely new Church organisation” for helping victims, he said.

The bishops’ conference said in a statement that there “can and should be no room for sexual abuse within the Church”, adding that abuse was “contrary to the Gospel, dignity of the human being and inviolability of the child”.

In November, the Dutch Church established a separate commission, headed by Siewert Lindenbergh, a civil law professor at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, to examine the legal and canonical position of Catholic dioceses and religious orders in abuse cases and determine their responsibility under the liability, insurance and injury laws.

  • Deditha M. Rosalejos

    Philippines has one documented Clergy Sexual abuse. Considered as one heinous crime, which the victim could no longer seek justice , being happened 0n 1985 and a lapsed of 20 yrs., Philippine courts could no longer prosecute the sinner who was at the time the diocesan priest in Danao City , Cebu.

    The victim Ms. Teresita V. Gonzales, who was at that time a blind choir member in Danao City Parish Church, has claimed during my interview sometime on April 2009 on the Holy Thursday, together with her late mother Petra V. Gonzales and her old father Pedro Gonzales and witnessed by Thelma M. Toledo , when I told her, in their residence in a remote barrio, of Danao City, Cebu Province, as qouted,

    D. M. Rosalejos, Interviewer: ” Terry , I hope this time after more than 20 yrs. of having been a blind mother to an illegitimate son, you are now ready to tell the truth of who has fathered your son, named Rommel Gonzales, who many in your has doubted the paternity of your son, while you serve as a church choir member in Danao City, Parish Church.(as translated from Cebuano dialects.)

    Ans. T.V. Gonzales: Yes, I am now ready to divulge my son's father identity , after along humiliating time and trauma. My son has been a result of my being a victim of rape on the second time by the the same priest who has raped me on the first time at the riverside inside a jeep whom he has driven after he has brought to a community fiesta in another remote barrio to sing on the mass he has officiated during the fiesta celebration at past 8:00 AM and after lunch time the said priest has told me to go home with him alone on a jeep considering a heavy cloud above and a rain almost to pour down leaving behind some choir members who opted not to go home with us as soon as possible to enjoy some fiesta shows and games.

    We have walked to the parking jeep across the wooden bridge that only light vehicle could pass such bicycle and motor cab beside the river with no inhabitants nearby. Just as we have approached the park jeep the rain started to pour out.And the priest has assisted me to get inside the jeep , but once inside , I noticed that he was rough on me and i sense something wrong of a priest action towards me a helpless blind woman of 22 yrs.old about to be raped.

    I started to go down from the jeep but I was caught and eventually I was raped, helplessly under the pouring rain, inside the jeep that no matter how I shouted for help, nobody would care to help me and nobody could hear EXCEPT THE RAPIST PRIEST , who has threaten me to keep silence and not to tell anybody for his reputation as a priest would be at risk.

    I did not tell my mother when I arrived home , I have stopped attending Mass and singing in the choir booth on Sunday masses for almost three (3) month I have been raped on August 1985.

    The 2nd time was when I was summoned in our house after the All Souls Day, on Nov. 2, 1985 for a church choir practice by a choir member by Fr. Montebon as been told to my mother and me. My mother has agreed , then I was brought on the convent where the priest resides in one of the room upstairs and I was summoned to go upstairs and somebody has guide me to his room doorstep. I WAS told to conduct “hilot” physical theraphy for an ailing priest after a bout of sun exposure in the cemetery the previous day conducting masses on the grieve site of prominent persons dead relatives. I have conducted the said physical therapy and when finished I started to find my way out but I was astonished to find out that the door was locked and no matter how I tried I just cant go away from him, and again I was raped with a threat not to shout or tell anybody for his reputation sake and me. Only then that I have found out I was already pregnant on the Holy week and rumors came out that a lady choir member has been impregnated .

    Interviewer: What happened ?

    Answer : There was a fact finding that and a proposal to have all lady choir member passed apregnancy test. I was the only one who has declined the process and it was divulge that the priest Montebon was the culprit. My mother and I went to the Archbishop Vidal and inquire the matter if it was okey to abort the child in my womb. My mother and I was told that another sin would not cover the first sin and has to keep the child .

    Mayor Durano at that time was so angry and many nolonger attend mass service in Danao city considering it was Holy week. and on May 2006, the priest was ent away for another assignment in another remote town in Bugu, Cebu as Diocesan priest, I have been denied justice and help for the child sake and me being a poor blind woman with no income and parents too old to support my needs and the baby. The child grew up not even finish elementary grades due poverty.

    End of the interview.

    Pope Benedict on the Filipino News paper issued on Dec. 13, 2010, has been aware of many clergy sexual abuses and willing to face the victim. Could Ms. Teresita Gonzales could have audience with him . Could somebody donate a Airplane ticket for her and her escort from Cebu to Rome or could the Pope visit the Philippines and meet her for whatever justice denied and mend errors if possible and she requested that the Pope could sponsor her eye operation for a Corneal transplant in Manila at the Philip[pine Eye center that would cost more or less P500,000.00 or $10,000.00 USD.