International attention for the abuse crisis, and the episcopal response

Following yesterday’s publication of the first report by the Deetman Commission, the news of the Dutch Church’s abuse crisis has broken internationally. Not all of the international headlines refer to proper news, speaking as they do about the number of reports made to Hulp & Recht (almost 2,000), which has been known for at least a number of weeks already. Most articles luckily also mention the main points from yesterday’s report, and also the preliminary response from the Dutch bishops and the Conference of Dutch Religious.

That response is not very remarkable, but considering the attention the case has received lately, I will offer a translation below. The text will also be available via the Translations tab above, but I think this is important enough to warrant a place on the main page of my blog.


Press release following the publication of the report by the Deetman Commission
Utrecht / ‘s-Hertogenbosch, 9 December 2010
The Dutch Bishops’ Conference and the Conference of Dutch Religious (KNR) have taken notice today of the report Towards help, recompense, openness and transparency from the Commission for research into sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church (Deetman Commission). The superiors of the KNR and the bishops value giving thanks to and complimenting commission chairman drs. W. J. Deetman, the members and the researchers for the fast and professional handling of this first research task considering aid to the victims.
The bishops and superiors of the KNR once again underline that they forcefully denounce any form of sexual abuse. There can and should be no room for sexual abuse within the Church. Abuse is at odds with the Gospel and the dignity of the human person and the inviolability of children. To all victims, religious superiors and bishops once again offers their heartfelt sympathy and apologies. But apologies alone are not enough.
On 11 May of this year, religious and bishops agreed with the research proposal as formulated by former Speaker of the House drs. W. Deetman. This offered priority to advice about the aid to the victims. Then (and now) the bishops and religious superiors consider it of great importance to hear from the Commission where additions to the aid offered is desired and how the existing procedure may be optimised.
The religious superiors and the bishops also expressed their trust that the Deetman Commission conducts a transparent, independent and scientific investigation. The victims especially have a right to independence and transparency. In addition, they are indispensable for the Church to help the victims as well as possible and to effectively prevent abuse in the future. The report now presented is the direct result of that. But an independent and transparent investigation alone is not  enough.
The report presented today, with conclusions and recommendations, offers much food for thought, decision and implementation. The Conference of Dutch Religious, the Bishops’ Conference and the Church body Hulp & Recht established by them will now enter into consultation to study the consequences of the advice of the Deetman Commission and its implementation. To assure an effective process, agreements will be made as soon as possible.