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Worldwide Church Reform Group Responds to Dutch Abuse Report

In the Netherlands, as elsewhere, clerics who perpetrated sexual abuse on helpless children could do so because they suffered no repercussions and because the Church did not hold hierarchical supervisors accountable.

Dec. 20, 2011 - PRLog -- NEWTON, Mass. – Another chapter in the horrific story of worldwide Roman Catholic clergy child sexual abuse began Dec. 16 when a commission established by the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands released its report.

“In the Netherlands, as elsewhere, clerics who perpetrated sexual abuse on helpless children could do so first because they suffered no repercussions themselves, and second because the Church neither held accountable, nor disciplined their hierarchical supervisors,” said Dan Bartley, Voice of the Faithful (http://www.votf.org) president.

The report concluded that, between 1945 and 2010, “several tens of thousands of minors have experienced mild, serious and very serious forms of inappropriate sexual behavior,” and “bishops and other church authorities were not ignorant of the problem,” and “in many cases they failed to take adequate actions and paid too little attention to victims.” The commission said Dutch dioceses, religious orders and congregations mentioned about 800 perpetrators in response to its queries. Although at least 150 of these perpetrators are still alive, the commission did not know how many are still in their jobs.

The report mentioned a “culture of cover-up,” and, considering the evidence, said that, “it is therefore impossible to speak of ignorance (of clergy sexual abuse) at management level. The report also commented that “the existence of a ‘culture of silence’ from the outset was not uncommon in organizations, like the congregation (Salesians of Don Bosco), with a strong esprit de corps.”

“For nearly a decade, Voice of the Faithful has called for transparency within the Church, whereby abuse allegations and records supporting allegations would be open to the general public, and accountability, whereby perpetrators and those in the hierarchy who covered-up or abetted perpetrators would be disciplined,” said Bartley. “Neither has happened. Until they do, our children will not be safe.”

Voice of the Faithful’s Child Protection and Survivor Support group maintains a Victims/Survivors, Friends and Supporters forum on the VOTF website at http://voices.votf.org/cpss/victimsurvivors-forum/ where comments can be posted.

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Voice of the Faithful (http://www.votf.org) is a worldwide movement of concerned mainstream Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and shape structural change within the Church.

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