Thousands Abused in Dutch Catholic Institutions

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Media_httpaabcnewscom_dfbmk(abcnews) (h/t @Jewess) Thousands of children suffered sexual abuse in Dutch Catholic institutions over the past 65 years, and church officials knew about the abuse but failed to adequately address it or help the victims, a long-awaited report said Friday. The release of the report was followed by an apology to victims by the archbishop of Utrecht, who said the revelation "fills us with shame and sorrow."
The Dutch investigation uncovered some of the most widespread abuse yet from a slew of inquiries around the world into sex abuse in the Catholic church. It echoes reports in Ireland that detailed how tens of thousands of children suffered wide-ranging abuses in workhouse-style residential schools.
The Dutch report said Catholic officials failed to tackle the widespread abuse, which ranged from "unwanted sexual advances" to rape, in an attempt to prevent scandals. Abusers included priests, brothers, pastors and lay people who worked in religious orders and congregations, it said. The investigation followed allegations of repeated incidents of abuse at one cloister that quickly spread to claims from Catholic institutions across the country.
The suspected number of abuse victims who spent some of their youth in church institutions likely lies somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000, according to a summary of the report investigating allegations of abuse dating back to 1945.
The commission behind the report received some 1,800 complaints of abuse at Catholic schools, seminaries and orphanages and said that the institutions suffered from "a failure of oversight." It then conducted the broader survey of the general population for a more comprehensive analysis of the scale and nature of sexual abuse of minors — both in the church and elsewhere.
Based on a survey among more than 34,000 people, the commission estimated that one in 10 Dutch children suffered some form of abuse broadly in society. The number doubled to 20 percent of children who spent part of their youth in an institution like an orphanage or boarding school — whether Catholic or not.
The commission was set up last year under the leadership of former government minister Wim Deetman, who said there could be no doubt church leaders knew of the problem.
"The idea that people did not know there was a risk ... is untenable," he said.
Deetman said abuse continued in part because the Catholic church in the Netherlands was splintered, so bishops and religious orders sometimes worked autonomously to deal with abuse and "did not hang out their dirty laundry."
However, he said the commission concluded that "it is wrong to talk of a culture of silence" by the church as a whole.
Bert Smeets, an abuse victim who attended the presentation of the report, said it did not go far enough in investigating and outlining in precise detail exactly what happened.
"What was happening was sexual abuse, violence, spiritual terror, and that should have been investigated," Smeets told The Associated Press. "It remains vague. All sorts of things happened, but nobody knows exactly what or by whom. This way they avoid responsibility."
Archbishop Wim Eijk said victims would be compensated by a commission the Dutch church set up last month and which has a scale starting at euro5,000 ($6,500) and rising to a maximum of euro100,000 ($130,000) depending on the nature of the abuse.
He said he felt personally ashamed of the abuse. "It is terrible," he said.

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