I wonder if I should even be surprised anymore… A man plays down the seriousness of sexual relations between an adult and a child, and is subsequently arrested for possessing child pornography. And then it becomes clear that this is his second arrest in five years for the same crime; he just didn’t think it necessary to inform anyone of his first arrest (unless his superiors knew things we didn’t, and that would no longer surprise me either).
The man is the former delegate for the Dutch Salesians Herman Spronck. I say former, because he kept the honour to himself and stepped down (notice it took him a few months of lying to reach that decision). His superior, Fr. Jos Claes of the Salesian province of Flanders and the Netherlands, immediately sent his case on to Rome, where I hope and assume, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and not the Salesian order, will take a good hard look at it.
A terse notice on the website of the Dutch Salesians says as much:
This afternoon we were informed that Fr. H. S. is accused of possessing child pornography, something for which he had been accused before.
We immediately informed our superiors in Rome about this.
This painful news is a surprise to the Salesians. We were completely unaware of this.
The measures surrounding his work, which had been previously published, remain in effect.
We hope that Dutch Justice will do continue to do its work. We Salesians wish to cooperate fully.
The amount of child pornography in Spronck’s possession may have been quite small, but in combination with the lies and the fact that this man had been a contact in discussions between victims of sexual abuse and Church authorities makes it truly despicable. Victims had placed their trust in Spronck, hoping that he would be able to help them get compensated for the pain inflicted upon them. And then he is basically just as bad as the people who abused them.
I also hope that this triggers all religious orders and congregations to stop being naive and unaware of what goes on within their own ranks. I think it’s now necessary to run background checks on every person they employ. This destroys all the goodwill the orders and the Church as a whole gains through their good works. One liar and one order which has little idea of what its member do or did.