For the bishops, a more active role

In a letter to the Committee for Safety and Justice, the Dutch bishops have responded to the points of critique that the Deetman Comittee identified in their report of last September. Apart from emphasising their involvement in the various ways that abuse claims are being processed, they also say that they want clarity about the possibility that the majority of these cases will receive a verdict in the coming year. The bishops also state their intention that they will now be actively involved in the institution which actually deals with the claims. Another important point they and the Conference of Dutch Religious recognise and want to fulfill is the implementation of the human tone in the meetings with victims and the processing of their claims. That is something that victims, but others as well, have long desired. It is not enough to strictly focus on the procedures and the rules, but compassion and regret also have a real and functional role in this entire process of dealing with a very black past.

In recent months, there have been complaints that the process is slow and sometimes even stalls completely. Superiors of religious orders and functionaries of the Conference of Dutch Religious have been especially implicated in these cases. At the same time, now that most of the furore has died down, there is a real risk that the efforts of the Church in the Netherlands to deal with the abuse crisis becomes invisible. And some would conclude that that means that nothing is happening. A more active role of the bishops and religious would then have the added benefit of negating this invisibility, although, it must be said, that can never be the main goal. As the bishops emphasise, the victims are always the reason and heart of any effort that is being undertaken.