A shocking report (to me at least) in the news today. Bishop Ad van Luyn was aware of cases of sexual abuse in the time that he was provincial superior of the Salesian order in the Netherlands. His spokesperson said so today. He also says to have taken taken at the time.
This is part of the official statements from the Dutch bishops’ conference:
Following the media reports about Msgr. van Luyn this afternoon, the Secretariat RC Church feels required to relate the following to you, as a correction.
On 10 March, Mr. Joep Dohmen asked if Msgr. van Luyn was aware of an internal investigation in 1967. The bishop made it know he had no managerial position in 1967 and that these cases were handled by the provincial with his vicar and the superior of the house in question with his vicar. On 24 March the question was asked if Msgr. van Luyn knew in general of cases of abuse within his congregation. That was the first this question was asked in a general context.
Between 1975 and 1981, Msgr. van Luyn, as provincial superior did receive news of several cases and took steps against them. Wereldomroep now suggests that the bishop only reveals this after much pressure and seems to be looking for sensation through suggestive reporting.
In light of the pending independent investigation we will refrain from further comments.
How is this shocking? Not because of the fact that abuse cases were known in the 1970s. Some were bound to have come to light and be dealt with internally. What does amaze me is the apparent naiveté in dealing with the media. Saying that a media outlet was not specific enough, that they should have asked better questions? Seriously? How is that an excuse?
Full openness, not hiding behind words and definitions, that is what is needed now. This is a very serious issue, that could potentially be very damaging to the Church. We – all the faithful, including the bishops – must be as open as possible. The truth will come out, certainly with an independent investigation.
I don’t enjoy pointing these things out, as some bloggers do. We are all in this together, and personally attacking, even slandering bishops serves no purpose at all, except to divide us. But bishops are people too, and they make mistakes. Msgr. van Luyn made a big one.
I am looking forward to being away from the blog this weekend. This has not been a good week.