Press release from the bishops on abuse

Below is the official press release from the Dutch bishops, following their meeting earlier today, where they discussed their response to the sexual abuse cases that occurred in the 1950s to 1970s in several Catholic institutions.

The Dutch Bishops’ Conference, in consultation with the Conference of Dutch Religious (KNR), announces the following:

Like the management of the KNR, the bishops are deeply moved by the heartrending stories of sexual abuse which have been revealed these past days. Any form of sexual abuse must be forcefully condemned because it is at odds with the Gospel and the dignity of the human person. It is a painful realisation and a sin to be confessed that proper care for children and young people, especially in the middle of the last century, was lacking in a number of priests and religious. Contacts must obviously be pure, transparent and respectful, especially with the smallest among us (cf. Matt. 18, 1-6). To those who were victim of abuse in Catholic boarding schools, religious and bishops offer their heartfelt sympathies and apologies.

It is clear that there is a great need among the victims to be heard and so recognised. This is the first responsibility of the separate dioceses, orders and congregations. It is desireable that victims are brought in contact with the responsible people of order, congregation or diocese.

The number of reports of abuse in former Catholic formative and educational institutions requires further investigation. The bishops’ conference and the KNR prefer a broad, external and independent investigation. Such a complex investigation must be done carefully. Under the guidance of drs. W. J. Deetman, the required expertise will be collected in the near future, a plan of investigation will be established and a timeline will be laid out.

To assure optimal cooperation with the investigation, the bishop’s conference has Msgr. Dr. G. de Korte, bishop of Groningen-Leeuwarden, to be referent and spokesman. From the KNR, secretary general prof. dr. mr. P. Chatelion Counet will take that role upon himself.

The bishops point out that Hulp & Recht remains the address for all reports.  (Postbus 13277, 3507 LG Utrecht, beleidsmedewerker@hulpenrecht.nl). Here a careful investigation of individual reports will take place. For more information on Hulp & Recht, see www.hulpenrecht.nl.

Professor Chatelion Counet, Bishop Punt, Bishop de Korte and Bishop Wiertz at the press conference
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