4 Feb 2011

Dutch bishops admit they did not warn diocese of pedophile priest, Cardinal denies knowledge of abuse and Vatican cover-up

Radio Netherlands - January 24, 2011

Dutch cardinal testifies in child abuse case

By Robert Chesal

The former leader of Dutch Roman Catholics is to testify for the first time about his knowledge of child abuse in the church. Earlier controversial comments he made about the abuse caused an outcry in the Netherlands.

Cardinal Ad Simonis will appear in court in Middelburg on Tuesday. [see article below] It will be the first time such a senior Roman Catholic cleric is to give evidence on child abuse before a Dutch court.

The Middelburg case has been brought by a 34-year-old man who was abused by the now very elderly priest, Jan N. The abuse took place in the early 1990s in Terneuzen in the diocese of Breda. The victim hopes the evidence of Cardinal Simonis and other church officials will show that the diocese can be held liable for not taking measures to prevent sexual abuse.

Paedophile cover-up

Last week, Bishop Hans van den Hende of Breda and Herman Spronck, head of the Salesian teaching order in the Netherlands, gave their testimony in the case. Father Spronck admitted that the Salesians (Father Jan’s first employers) did not inform the Breda diocese of the priest’s paedophile offences.

While he was in a position of authority at the Don Bosco Youth Centre in Rijswijk, Fr Jan had sexually abused multiple boys. He was arrested in 1979 and confessed to the offences but after a week in prison was allowed sick leave. His case was dismissed in 1980 by the Public Prosecutor’s office in The Hague. The reason for that decision is unclear and the dossier has since been destroyed.

“Rather regrettable”

Only five years later, Fr Jan started work as a priest in a parish in Terneuzen, part of the Breda diocese, where his history was not known. In 1990, the priest was found guilty of the sexual abuse of a number of boys. He was given four months’ suspended sentence and ordered to do 160 hours of community service.

Fr Spronck’s evidence seems to absolve the Breda diocese of blame. He admitted that a warning would probably have prevented Fr Jan from committing more sexual abuse. The Salesians’ inaction “may have been rather regrettable,” he told the NOS Dutch public service broadcaster.

What did the cardinal know?

Now, it’s Cardinal Simonis’ turn to testify about what he knew of the earlier case in Rijswijk. At the time, he was bishop of Rotterdam, and Rijswijk is in the Rotterdam diocese. It is hoped his statements will show whether there is enough evidence to bring a civil case for damages against the diocese of Breda.

This article was found at:



Associated Press - January 25, 2011

Dutch Cardinal Testifies in Catholic Abuse Case

By MIKE CORDER, Associated Press | (AP)

MIDDELBURG, Netherlands (AP) -- Dutch Cardinal Adrianus Simonis testified Tuesday he had no role in the appointment or dismissal of a Catholic priest accused of drugging and raping a young man.

The brief appearance by the 79-year-old retired archbishop of Utrecht at Middelburg District Court marked the first time such a senior cleric had appeared in a Dutch courtroom to answer questions about abuse in the church.

The victim, Dave ten Hoor, says he was drugged and raped twice by the priest, identified only as Father Jan N., in 1989 and 1990 in the southern town of Terneuzen, Ten Hoor's lawyer Martin de Witte told The Associated Press. De Witte said he expects at least one more alleged abuse victim to join the case.

Ten Hoor was not present at Tuesday's hearing, which was not a trial.

De Witte says he is trying to find out how much church authorities knew about Father Jan's abuse to establish whether he can sue for compensation.

"I do not know him at all," Simonis said of Father Jan, adding that he had nothing to do with his appointment as a priest in Terneuzen.

Simonis has been drawn into the case because before moving to Terneuzen Father Jan also allegedly abused children at a youth center run by the Salesian order in Rijswijk, a town just outside The Hague. At the time, Simonis was Bishop of Rotterdam and Rijswijk fell within his diocese.

However the Cardinal said he had visited the center just once for a party and did not recall meeting the priest, though he did not rule out that he may have been introduced to him.

In testimony earlier this month, a Salesian leader told the court his order did not tell Catholic officials of Father Jan's history of abuse when he was appointed a priest in Terneuzen.

Simonis' testimony came as an independent commission led by former government minister Wim Deetman is investigating some 2,000 allegations of abuse by Catholic priests and other church workers.

Many of the cases date back several decades. They began coming to light amid publicity of sex abuse scandals besetting Catholic churches elsewhere in the world.

Wearing a gray suit and clergyman's white collar, the Simonis walked with the help of a cane into the courtroom and asked the judge to speak up as he was hard of hearing. He entered and left the court building via a rear goods entrance.

Simonis said he did not want to discuss broader issues of sex abuse in the Catholic church, "as I don't want to get in the way of the Deetman commission."

Simonis told the court he has spoken to Deetman, but did not elaborate.

In answer to a question from De Witte, he denied that the Vatican had ever issued guidelines to church officials telling them not to report cases of abuse to police and said sexual abuse was not discussed by priests prior to revelations emanating from the United States in the early 1990s.

"For us, it did not exist," Simonis said.

This article was found at:



Allegations of child abuse in Dutch Catholic Church up from 20 per year previous decade to 2000 last year

400 cases of sexual abuse by Dutch clergy since 1995

Dutch radio reveals Catholic abuse scandal in the Netherlands, church authorities refuse to admit and discuss past abuses

Pope linked to German child abuse scandal, Dutch church orders inquiry, Catholic theologian blames celibacy

Church commissioned report shows German diocese Pope once led covered up abuse by hundreds of priests and teachers

New Catholic child abuse cases surface in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands

Jesuit sex abuse scandal in German school just "the tip of the iceberg" says principle, but survivors have few legal options

Boston Globe reporters who exposed widespread sex crimes scandal which led to current Catholic crisis say far more yet to come

Current wave of global Catholic scandals just tip of iceberg says Quebec advocate who predicts many more to come

As Vatican cardinal defends pope and church, African bishop says sex crimes of priests there not yet exposed

Salesian order settles LA clergy sex abuse suit for $19.5M

Abuse was common in religious orders


  1. Catholic church knew of abuse for decades, published warnings

    Dutch News - Netherlands November 29, 2011

    The Catholic church was aware of child abuse at orphanages and other institutions throughout the Netherlands as early as 1954, according to documents found by researchers in church archives.

    Senior church officials have consistently claimed they were not aware of the abuse.

    However, television current affairs show Altijd Wat reported on Monday night the church's council for child protection issued warnings about child abuse in church-run homes and boarding schools in 1959 and 1962.


    The warnings were sent to the authorities at 112 homes and residential schools.

    The letters urged institution managers to be aware of the dangers of employing people who are 'unsuitable' to give leadership to children.

    The 1959 circular, for example, says the child protection group was aware of a number of cases, 'with sad and serious outcomes'.


    RTL news has discovered a warning made by a senior cleric in Tilburg in 1954 in which monks in Tilburg were told: 'be careful in how you relate to children and do not make your lives unhappy. Keep your hands to yourself.'

    The documents shed new light on the church's claim not to have known about the widespread abuse of children living in church institutions.

    Lawyer Martin de Witte, who is representing a number of victims, said the letters showed the church could no longer say it was not aware of the abuse and claim that the cases are now too old.


    'They knew exactly what was going on but decided to to nothing about it,' De Witte told the Volkskrant.

    It is almost two years since the scandal broke in the Netherlands with revelations that three Catholic clerics from the Don Rua cloisters in 's Heerenberg, Gelderland, had abused at least three children in the 1960s and 1970s.

    Since then, a government commission has received reports of almost 2,000 cases of abuse within religious institutions. A number of cases will be taken to court


  2. Inquiry says thousands abused in Dutch Catholic institutions

    by MIKE CORDER, Associated Press December 16, 2011

    Thousands of children suffered sexual abuse in Dutch Catholic institutions, and church officials failed to adequately address the abuse or help the victims, according to a long-awaited investigation released Friday.

    The report by the an independent commission said Catholic officials failed to tackle the widespread abuse “to prevent scandals.” 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.

    Based on a survey among more than 34,000 people, the commission estimated that one in 10 Dutch children suffered some form of abuse. The number doubled to 20 per cent of children who spent part of their youth in an institution – whether Catholic or not.

    The commission said it received some 1,800 complaints of abuse at Catholic schools, seminaries and orphanages and 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.

    The commission was set up last year under the leadership of former government minister Wim Deetman to investigate allegations of abuse dating from 1945.

    Mr. Deetman said that the problem of abuse continued in part because the Catholic church organization 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 that the commission concluded that “it is wrong to talk of a culture of silence” by the church as a whole.

    The Dutch Bishops Conference scheduled a press conference for Friday afternoon to respond to the report.

    The investigation followed allegations of repeated incidents of abuse at one cloister that quickly spread to claims from Catholic institutions across the country, echoing similar scandals around the world.

    The commission identified about 800 priests, brothers, pastors or lay people working for the church who had been named in the complaints. About 105 of them were still alive, although it was not known if they remained in church positions, the report said. It identified them as “perpetrators” rather than “offenders,” meaning they had not been proven to have committed a crime.

    The Dutch branch of the Catholic church agreed last month to launch a compensation system that clears the way for victims of abuse by priests and other church workers to receive payments.

    The new compensation system has a scale starting at €5,000 ($6,500) and rising to a maximum of €100,000 ($130,000) depending on the nature of the abuse.

    According to the Dutch Central Bureau for Statistics, 29 per cent of the Dutch population of 16 million identified themselves as Catholics in 2008, making it the largest religion in the country.


  3. Pope Francis Avoids Apology For Clergy Sex Abuse

    By Barbie Latza Nadeau, The Daily Beast December 3, 2013

    Why doesn’t popular Pope Francis issue a straightforward apology for rampant child sex abuse by Catholic priests, instead of swerving time and again on the issue?

    There is no question that Pope Francis has put a shine on the tarnished Catholic church through acts of humility and courage in the first eight months of his papacy. Cold calls to Catholics and random acts of kindness—including rumors that he regularly sneaks out of Vatican City at night to help feed the poor in Rome —have endeared him to the most ardent naysayers. But the first Latin American pontiff hasn’t won everyone over quite yet.

    Advocates of the clerical child sex scandal say the pope still has done little to address the church’s disgraceful record on child abuse. And on Monday, he seemed to miss another big opportunity to apologize for the church’s sins. In a meeting with 13 Dutch prelates in Rome, he apparently intended to flick at the issue. According to prepared remarks given to those who attended the meeting, he was planning to say, “I wish to express my compassion and to ensure my closeness in prayer to every victim of sexual abuse, and to their families; I ask you to continue to support them along the painful path of healing, that they have undertaken with courage”. But those in attendance said he veered off script and instead held an open conversation with the clergy present, failing to focus on the sex abuse problem in the Dutch church as he may have intended, according to the prepared remarks. Last year, the Dutch government issued a harsh report against the Catholic church after investigating more than 20,000 valid claims of child abuse by priests since 1945. They called out the Dutch church’s failure to “adequately deal with the abuse.”

    Monday’s missed opportunity is not the first time this popular pontiff has punted on the issue. In a broad interview published in several Jesuit magazines in September, he also chose not to address the issue at all, which disappointed many Catholics who were hoping to hear from the new pope on this contentious topic. In another interview in October, this time with La Repubblica the pope again remained silent on the subject of sex abuse, missing what many Italians felt was a golden opportunity to put his views on the record.

    continued below

  4. Advocates like David Clohessy, executive director of SNAP -Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests say that the pope doesn’t need openings to make an apology or do more. “He needs no opportunity with his massive global bully pulpit,” Clohessy told The Daily Beast. “He could have apologized any time over the past eight months.”

    Clohessy says that while the pope is a “master of symbolic gesture” he seems to lack the moral courage to effectively address the church’s most devastating crisis. “He comes from the developing world where this crisis is still percolating and has yet to burst into the public arena and force a real church response,” he says. “An effective pope must use both carrot and stick. He must be a pastor and a policeman. Compassion is wonderful but only goes so far. When dealing with predators and enablers, anger is also necessary.”

    To be fair, Francis has a lot on his plate as he confronts the church’s mountain of problems, including allegations of financial corruption. In July, he did make child abuse illegal on Vatican grounds, including the creation and possession of child pornography and prostitution of minors. Apparently that law had never made into the Vatican legal code. But he also made it illegal to leak secret documents kept sacred in the Holy See, effectively enabling church officials to continue to hide any evidence of a cover-up when it comes to sex crimes that have been reported to the Vatican.

    Hope is not lost for real changes in how the Church deals with this delicate issue. On Tuesday Francis began a two-day meeting with his papal posse of reforming cardinals who have been tasked with advising him about how to fix the ails of the global church. It seems impossible to think that better handling the child sex abuse problem would not be somewhere near the top of their agenda. Clohessy, who also worries that a papal apology would be a bandaid and only give the wrong impression that the Church is addressing the problem through dialogue rather than action, is not optimistic. “Papal apologies these days mean nothing,” he says. “One apologizes for harm when harm is done. But the abuse and cover-up crisis continues. Adults can heal themselves with or without church officials’ apologies. Kids, however, can’t protect themselves without church officials’ actions.”