I am angry. Angry and upset. At the stupidity of one man in particular, pictured to the left, and the 1970’s attitude he displays towards sexuality, children and, yes, abuse.
The man appeared in this blog before. He is Fr. Herman Spronck, the superior of the Salesian of Don Bosco in the Netherlands. Yesterday, an interview with him was published by RTL. In it, he defends the membership of a Salesian of a pedophile’s club, his incidents of indecent exposure (“not such a serious misdemeanor”) and reveals he thought it enough to urge said man to not break the law. But the real clincher comes later in the interview, when Spronck is asked about his own opinions of sexuality and sexual contact with minors. My thoughts in red.
What is your own opinion about sexual relations between adults and children. Should these be allowed?
There are of course certain social norms to which everyone should keep. But you can wonder if those do not go too far. Formally [only formally, because it is expected of you?] I always say that everyone should keep to the law . But such relations need not necessarily be harmful.
You think that relations between adults and children are not necessarily harmful?
I have an example of that. I was once approached by a 14-year-old boy who had a relationship with an older religious brother. That was no longer allowed and the boy was really troubled by that, he was even harmed by it. He told, “Fr. Herman, why do you want to forbid that?” Well, what do you say to such a boy? [Since when is a 14-year-old able to discern the right course of action, especially if he has already been abused by an adult? It was up to Spronck, as it is up to all adults, to protect children, sometimes also from themselves.]
So, those relations between adults and children should be allowed?
Personally I do not definitively denounce relationships between adults and children. Do you know Foucault? The philosopher. Do you know his writings? No? Perhaps you should read them, especially the introduction to Part 4 [I’m not familiar with Foucault. Anyone willing to share some thoughts about said introduction?]. It does depend on the child. We shouldn’t consider age so rigidly. You should never break into the personal space of a child if the child does not want that, but that has to do with the child itself. There are also children who themselves indicate that it is okay. Sexual contact is then also possible. [Sexual contact with minors is never okay! Children, especially in early puberty, need our guidance, like they need the guidance of parents and teachers. They are not adults yet, although they often think they are, and should not be treated so.]
He also continues to say that the abuse claims of people who were victims of Salesians in boarding schools are mostly lies, and that it is all very understandable that religious had sex with minors.
I am angry. I am disgusted. And I wonder if this man is going to get away with all this. I certainly do not hope so.
Saint Don Bosco, pray for all the victims of sexual abuse, especially committed by men who claim to follow your rule. Do not keep from them the relief of pain, and the understanding and recompense that is their day. Also pray for a change of heart in the people who continue to defend and promote these crimes, which touch upon the very heart of children entrusted to the care of adults. Hear my prayer.
Bishops, Nuncio, Conference of Dutch Religious, the ball is in your court now.