Skip to comments.Covering the Catholic sex abuse cover-up
Posted on 12/16/2011 7:08:45 AM PST by Alex Murphy
Roman Catholic bishops in the Netherlands protected sexual abusers and covered up their crimes, according to a major new report released today. The church-installed Deetman Commission says there were up to 20,000 victims of abuse between the end of World War II and 1981.
Radio Netherlands Worldwide journalist Robert Chesal brought to light the abuse that led to a national scandal. He looks back at how the story unfolded.
You could say that 2010 was the year when the Roman Catholic sex abuse scandal went viral. Until February of that year, abuse of youngsters by Catholic clergy was primarily seen as a problem in Ireland and the United States.
But that month, as northern Europe lay buried in snow, a simmering problem began to reach boiling point. Reports from a Catholic boarding school run by Jesuits in the German capital Berlin spoke first of a few, then of a dozen, and then of over a hundred victims of abuse by priests.
One of those reports reached me at the RNW newsroom in mid-February. That same day I read that Pope Benedict XVI had ordered the entire Irish bishops' conference to appear at the Vatican, where they would receive a dressing down for failing to tackle abuse in their dioceses. I decided to investigate what, if anything, had happened in the Netherlands.
On the internet I quickly found a testimony by a man named Janne Geraets, now in his late 50s, who claimed to have been abused at a boarding school in the early 1960s. I arranged to meet him the following day and heard his story of the painful and deeply damaging abuse he suffered at the hands of a Salesian father.
As I walked to the bus stop after that interview, my head still filled with the disturbing images Geraets had described, I started thinking about where to look next.
I discovered that there were some worrying trends in the Netherlands which were as yet unreported in the mainstream media. For instance, a prominent Dutch jurist told me why he had stepped down as chairman of the assessment board of the Roman Catholic abuse hotline.
In fact, he said, the entire board had resigned because their recommendations on how to deal with known abusers in the church were repeatedly being ignored by the Dutch bishops.
I was confronted with another ominous sign when I rang up the Protestant counterpart to the Catholic hotline and was told that all cooperation between the Protestant and Catholic centres for abuse notification had ceased years earlier.
The representative I spoke to suspected the reason the partnership had broken down was that the Catholic side “had something to hide”. Another hotline employee lamented the fact that the Catholics showed no interest in a new protocol established by the Protestant abuse notification centre which the Protestants were more than willing to share.
Hotbed of abuse
Spurred on by Janne Geraets' insistence that he was just one of many children abused at his school, I enlisted the help of experienced investigative journalist Joep Dohmen at the NRC Handelsblad newspaper. Together, Dohmen and I pieced together a story that revealed the abuse of three minors by Salesians from the same boarding school.
We also brought to light the fact that one of the most respected bishops in the Netherlands, monsignor Ad van Luyn, had taught at that same school, in close proximity to what later appeared to be a hotbed of sexual abuse.
Our first publication on 26 February 2010, sparked an avalanche of abuse reports from former boarding school pupils throughout the Netherlands. The Catholic hotline was completely unable to handle the workload and within weeks the first steps were taken to create a commission of inquiry led by former government minister Wim Deetman.
Pope angers Europe
Meanwhile, it was rapidly becoming clear that the Catholic Church had a scandal of epidemic proportions on its hands in Europe. From Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria, shocking testimonies of abuse and allegations of church cover-ups were making headlines.
There was an angry reaction when Pope Benedict apologised to churchgoers in Ireland for decades of abuse that went unpunished. Why, the Germans and Dutch asked, should we be treated any differently from Irish victims?
The Vatican never gave a satisfactory answer to that question. On the contrary. A cardinal close to the pope called the scandal “petty gossip” and even some bishops who acknowledged wide-scale abuse blamed it on the freemasons, on homosexuality and on the loosening of society's sexual morals following the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s (a particularly odd fallacy, since so many cases of abuse stem from the 1950s and earlier).
On Good Friday, Pope Benedict's own preacher compared the incrimination of priests in the sex abuse scandal to past examples of persecution of Europe's Jews. Public relations are not exactly a strong point in Rome.
The church in the Netherlands hardly made a better impression. The top Catholic figure here, Cardinal Simonis, left mouths agape when he denied that Dutch church leaders were aware of the wide-scale abuse by priests in their midst.
He chose a historically loaded phrase the Dutch normally use to mock feigned German ignorance of the Nazi concentration camps, saying “Wir haben es nicht gewusst”.
But Simonis' words sounded decidedly hollow when we reported, months later, that he had helped move a pedophile priest from one parish to another, allowing abuse of minors to continue.
Incidents like these are among the many disconcerting facts that the Deetman Commission had to grapple with in its inquiry. Of the estimated 10,000 to 20,000 victims in institutional care between 1945 and the early 1980s, approximately half were repeatedly subjected to sexual abuse for longer than a year, the commission says.
Personal accounts reveal that the physical and psychological damage caused by such extended periods of victimisation is immense and long-lasting.
The commission singled out Roman Catholic boarding schools, orphanages, seminaries and other institutions, reporting that children there ran a greater risk of being abused. The inquiry blasted the institutions' failure to monitor the well-being of minors in their care.
In a first reaction to the 1,200-page Deetman report, Bishop Gerard de Korte said the church leadership had made wrong choices by protecting abusive priests and putting the reputation of the church before the well-being of victims. It's unlikely to be the last word we hear from the bishops on that sensitive point.
Justice a step closer
Along with many other journalists, I crowded into a meeting room in the Dutch political capital The Hague this morning for the official presentation of the report. Afterwards, colleagues asked me if this was a crowning moment in my career. I had to think about that. And my answer was no. Because I did not become a journalist to hold the Roman Catholic Church accountable for sexual abuse.
I did, however, become a journalist out of some kind of desire for justice and truth. And in that sense, I would have to conclude that with the Deetman Commission report, we've gotten one step closer to that goal.
Yesterday the Catholic church in the Netherlands apologized for abuse done to thousands of children in their care.
More millstones are needed.
A mistake is not a lie. Protestants lie about this among Catholics: the numbers, the causes, the history, etc. Catholics simply don’t do that.
“Its all an evil conspiracy, isnt it?”
No, it’s just Protestant anti-Catholicism. It naturally breeds liars and lies. Newman noted this about 150 years ago. He wasn’t wrong.
“Catholic saints and experts have joined hands with Protestant historians to make paedphile and homosexual priests look bad and theyre all lying, right?”
No, they just aren’t saying what you are claiming. They were honest.
“How did it start?”
“What does it look like?”
“How should it be stamped out?”
With truth and grace.
“Who does the stamping?”
God, angels and men.
It is not the lack of rules and threats but the lack of leadership as has been documented far too many ways to repeat here, that is the problem.
That might be difficult to understand but yesterday the apology given those thousands of children abused while under the care of the Catholic church makes the point quite well.
Call it Protestant lies and anti-Catholism but who are the liars and anti-Catholics?
Those bishops and fellow clerics who covered up and protected the guilty and thus allowed them to do irreparable harm to both their victims and the spirit of sincere Catholics...OR
Those who exposed it and demanded punishment? Whose conspiracy?
“No, its just Protestant anti-Catholicism. It naturally breeds liars and lies. Newman noted this about 150 years ago. He wasnt wrong.”
Sounds like Tony Soprano, “There is no mafia!!!”
“All the canons and threats of punishment dire didn’t stop the latest round of abuse by the clerics.”
Did the Ten Commandments stop people from sinning?
“And it didn’t stop the abuse the past thousand years. That is what the sources cited said despite your contrary wise invective.”
So, we’re back to Protestant dishonesty again? You said there was a millenium of toleration of sex abuse did you not? Nothing you cited said that. Nothing at all.
“It is not the lack of rules and threats but the lack of leadership as has been documented far too many ways to repeat here, that is the problem.”
What is the problem is that you were completely wrong - there was no millenium of toleration. None.
“That might be difficult to understand but yesterday the apology given those thousands of children abused while under the care of the Catholic church makes the point quite well.”
No, actually it doesn’t make any point in your favor at all. Remember, you claimed there was a millenium of toleration. Where is your evidence? You have none.
“Call it Protestant lies and anti-Catholism but who are the liars and anti-Catholics?”
Well, how about the person who made a baseless claim about a millenium of toleration of abuse, contradicted his own sources and now seems to be trying to get away from his own claim?
“Those bishops and fellow clerics who covered up and protected the guilty and thus allowed them to do irreparable harm to both their victims and the spirit of sincere Catholics...OR”
Remember, you claimed there was a millenium of toleration. Where is your evidence? Trying to change the topic is not going to help you. Time to put up or shut up. You’ll fail of course.
“Those who exposed it and demanded punishment? Whose conspiracy?”
Again, where is the proof for your claim? You have none.
“Sounds like Tony Soprano, There is no mafia!!!”
But is someone wants to see that what I said is true all they have to do is look at your posts which are devoid of evidence of your false claim of a millenium of toleration of abuse. It’s a falsehood. And - since you’re a Protestant - you’ll probably keep saying it anyway.
Kinda like the 200 million killed by the Inquisition.
I think it is worst than that! Ignorant people make mistakes all the time, but I think anti-Catholics have no regard for truth. They lie, I think they know it, and they still do it.
I think you are correct.
"What does the stamping sound like?"
Like jackboots on Protestant necks.
Maybe what I cited was just too complicated for you to understand. I say that because it seems you miss the point of what was said.
Anyway, I suggest a little quality time with the history books and then we can talk again.
Like on neck ofthe Waldenese’s.
I'd stomp about the Sola's
I'd stomp 'em bloody gory...
I'd stomp 'em till the love'n hope 'tween the brothers & the sisters,
Was dead-dead, stone dead, all over this land
“What does the stamping sound like?”
Your own false answer to your own question was:
“Like jackboots on Protestant necks.”
First, I’m not so sure jackboots on necks even make noise. Second, the correct answer is that it would sound like whatever the evangelical counsels and virtues sound like when put into pratice and combined with good preaching and the sacraments.
“Maybe what I cited was just too complicated for you to understand. I say that because it seems you miss the point of what was said.”
Maybe what you cited was just too complicated for you to understand. I say that because it seems you missed the point of what they said.
“Anyway, I suggest a little quality time with the history books and then we can talk again.”
Anyway, I suggest a little quality time with the history books and then we can talk again. This time actually read them. To save yourself from embarrassment don’t cite sources which actually contradict your claim.
The shortage of Lebensraum (room to live) had a second source in childhood. Upon birth, the wretched new-born little thing was wound up in ells of bandages, from the feet right, and tight, up to the neck; as if it were intended to be embalmed as a mummy babies are loathsome, foetid things, offensive to the last degree with their excreta 22 Babies simply could not move for their first year of life. A visitor from England described the German baby as a piteous object; it is pinioned and bound up like a mummy in yards of bandages it is never bathed Its head is never touched with soap and water until it is eight or ten months old.23 Their feces and urine was so regularly left on their bodies that they were covered with lice and other vermin attracted to their excreta, and since the swaddling bandages were very tight and covered their arms as well as their bodies, they could not prevent the vermin from drinking their blood. Their parents considered them so disgusting they called them filthy lice-covered babies, and often put them, swaddled, in a bag, which they hung on the wall or on a tree while the mothers did other tasks.24 The fear of being poisoned by lice was daily embedded in the fearful alter of the baby, and was as an adult re-experienced as a fear of Jews being filthy lice who attempted to infect the pure German blood and who had to be exterminated to cleanse the German bloodstream.25 Germany, Hitler said, had to restore its 1914 borders to get an influx of fresh blood [because] the Polish Corridor is a national wound that bleeds continuously. Infancy in swaddling bands was re-experienced: Poisonous bacilli were sucking out our blood [and injecting] a continuous stream of poison into our blood vessels.26
Nazi housecleaning of the unfit began early on with 800,000 children having their blood taken to analyze its purity, and over 70,000 useless eater children were exterminated in the first gas chambers and crematorium ovens before any Jews were sent to gas chambersto cleanse and disinfect the nation.27 Eventually, Jews and other useless eaters were sent to gas chambers, run by doctors, claiming they were filthy lice who attempted to infect the pure German blood who had to be exterminated to cleanse the bacteria that brought about infection.28 Himmler explained the childhood origins of the Jewish bacteria delusion as follows: Anti-semitism is exactly like delousing. The removal of lice is not an ideological question, but a matter of hygiene.29 Hitler himself used to watch for hours as his own blood was being sucked by leeches to rid it of poison.30 Jews were rounded up and made into Bad Selvesshit-babiesputting them into overcrowded death camps and telling them: Youll be eaten by lice, youll rot in your own shit All are going to die.31 Jews were called pestiferous bacillus carriers, made to live like lice-covered babies, forced to lie in barracks like they themselves were forced to live in their swaddling bands, awash with urine and feces, forced to eat their own feces, and finally dying in showers covered with their excrement.32 Repeating their parents curses at them as shit-babies, their guards told them Youll be eaten by lice; youll rot in your own shit, you filthy shitface.33 As they killed Jews, guards told them what they imagined their mothers felt as they killed their newborn siblings: Because youre dirty you have to die.34 They were all Bad Shit-Babies. They had to die. If they were not killed, Nazis said they would gobble up the breast of Germany!35
The abandonment of children was not limited to sending them to wetnurses. Children were given away and even sold to relatives, neighbors, foundling homes, even traveling scholars to be used as beggars, with the rationalization that this was so they could be drilled for hard work and learn discipline.36
If a German newborn was allowed to live, it was then subjected to the most horrifying traumatic tortures that can be inflicted upon children, every detail of which became indelibly imprinted on their early amygdalan fear system and then re-inflicted upon enemies during the war and the Holocaust. The restrictions of the first year of tight swaddling were continued in subsequent years by putting them in various restraint devices, steel-stayed corsets worn by both sexes, steel collars and backboards strapped to the waist, all to ensure they would not become tyrants.37 The endless encirclement fears of childhood were implanted in German alters and re-experienced in the constant fears of Germany itself being encircled by enemies, even when, as with the British and Soviets in the interwar period, they continually denied all charges of encirclement.38 Hitler from the first used swaddling/restraint language all the time to describe Germanys emotional plight: Germany is bound head and foot by Peace Treaties and they must go to war in order to breathe more freely.39 Restrictive, abandoning German childrearing guaranteed sacrificial war when they were adultseven monkeys who are reared in isolation and restriction grow up vicious and self-mutilating.40
The traditional German obsession with childrens feces continued after swaddling ended by the regular use of enemas as a maternal domination device, a fetish object often wielded by the mother or nurse in daily rituals that resembled sexual assaults on the anus, sometimes including tying the child up in leather straps as though the mother were a dominatrix, inserting the two-foot-long enema tube over and over again as punishment for accidents. There were special enema stores that German children would be taken to in order to be fitted for their proper size of enemas. Mothers had an intensive fear of the notorious smell of the small child which made them give daily enemas to prevent them from becoming a relentless house tyrant.41 The ritual stab in the back was a central fear of German children well into the twentieth century, and they learned never to speak of it, but always to think about it.42 Enema fears, of course, were re-experienced in the stab in the back group-fantasy that Germans kept referring to when they imagined the Versailles Treaty was agreed to by German socialists without Germany ever having been defeated in WWI. Sexual molestation of children was routine and considered normal. When infants were removed from their cribs, they usually slept in the family bed and either were made part of the sexual act or regularly witnessed it close up. Bloch reported the seduction of children in Germany was very widespread, and German doctors reported nursemaids and other servants carry out all sorts of sexual acts on the children entrusted to their care, sometimes merely in order to quiet the children, sometimes for fun.43 Freuds patients (and Freud himself) said they were seduced by their nurses, who put crying children to sleep by stroking their genitals.44 Little Hans slept with his mother for four years, and told Freud his mother said if he touched his penis she would cut it off.45 Priests used children for sex then too.46 Both boys and girls regularly were raped in schools, by teachers and older students, and there were even special schools espousing pedagogical Erosthe benefits of teachers using students for sex to help learning.47 Plus, of course, most young girls and boys were sexually assaulted as servants and apprentices.48