It would not be fair to blame all Roman Catholics, or all Roman Catholic priests, for those crimes.
There seems to be a pattern. A pattern of concentration of sexual abuse in the sexually, religiously, and politically conservative Right wing of Roman Catholicism. Those attacking consensual sex between gays or lesbians, those denouncing women’s rights, those supporting the late Spanish dictator Franco and/or supporting Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, seem to be more likely to sexually abuse, eg, children. In a mindset where consensual sex and rape are more or less equally “dirty” and hierarchical authority is an excuse for very many things, there may be cases like ex-Bishop Jo Gijsen of Roermond in the Netherlands.
Gijsen was the poster boy of the conservative backlash by the Vatican in the Dutch church after the liberal reforms of the 1960s. Now, Gijsen stands accused of sexually abusing a boy.
Gijsen was not the only Right wing bishop imposed by the Vatican on the Dutch church, against the will of most local priests and lay believers. Another one was Jan ter Schure, who became bishop of Den Bosch because of his conservatism.
Today, from Radio Netherlands Worldwide:
Dutch bishop sexually abused young boy
Published on : 26 November 2010 – 1:10pm
According to Roman Catholic Church documents in the possession of Radio Netherlands Worldwide and Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad, Jan ter Schure – Bishop of Den Bosch until 1998 – was one of seven priests who abused a boarding school pupil.
The victim, who wishes to remain anonymous, received financial compensation of €16,000 from religious order the Salesian Fathers of Don Bosco. As a boy, he suffered serious sexual abuse at the hands of seven Salesian priests at the Don Rua monastery in Ugchelen between 1948 and 1953.
One of the perpetrators was Jan ter Schure, who went on to become Bishop of Den Bosch.
In 2003, a settlement was reached in which the Salesian Fathers paid the victim financial compensation for “emotional damages”. This took place six months after the death of Jan ter Schure, who served as Bishop from 1985 to 1998.
The Don Rua monastery relocated to the town of ’s-Heerenberg at the end of the 1950s. Since February 2010, revelations of widespread sexual abuse at this location have prompted a wave of publicity about sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands.
In March, the Church complaints body Hulp en Recht concluded it was “likely” that the victim had been repeatedly abused by seven priests.
The body “became convinced of this due not only to the manner in which the complainant recounted his story and the details he provided, but because it also became apparent that the complainant had been burdened by a dark secret, with the corresponding impact on his life thereafter.”
In its findings, Hulp en Recht also writes that “the Salesian Fathers at that time are to be blamed for the lack of adequate protection and help for a minor entrusted to the care of the order”.
In April, shortly after this conclusion was announced, the most senior representative of the Salesian Fathers in the Netherlands and Flanders, Jos Claes, apologised to the victim on behalf of his order.
Van Luyn ignored appeal
The victim turned to Hulp en Recht after appealing in vain to Bishop Van Luyn of Rotterdam. Van Luyn had been a classmate in Ugchelen and became head of the Salesian Fathers in the Netherlands during the 1970s.
In 2008, the victim wrote several letters to the bishop because, five years after the settlement, he was still anguished by the abuse he had suffered. Bishop Van Luyn did not respond to his repeated requests to publicly denounce the abuses in the order.
Six months after the victim’s first letter, a member of Bishop Van Luyn’s staff sent a reply: “The bishop has taken due notice of the matter on which you have written to him. However, he does not recognise the course of events or the facts you outline with regard to what you claim has been done to you.”
The diocese responds
In response to the present report, the Diocese of Rotterdam states that Bishop Van Luyn referred the victim to the Salesians Fathers of Don Bosco. “The content of the letters (…) relates to the order of the Salesian Fathers over which Monsignor Van Luyn had no administrative authority in 2008.”
The Diocese goes on to say that Bishop Van Luyn personally asked the order to contact the victim. “As a diocesan bishop, Monsignor Van Luyn can unfortunately play no part in matters that concern orders or congregations.”
Herman Spronck, Father Superior of the Salesians in the Netherlands has declined to comment.
Quite some bishops like Ter Schure have never been dismissed or suspended. While, in another church, the Church of England, a bishop was immediately suspended for criticizing the expensive royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. It seems that correctly criticizing a waste of taxpayers’ money is a “crime”, while child abuse is not …
Pope weakens Catholic opposition to condoms: here.
- Church sexual abuse inquiry opens in Sydney (abc.net.au)
- Pope Benedict XVI ‘Complicit In Child Sex Abuse Scandals’, Say Victims’ Groups (infiniteunknown.net)
- Pope Benedict XVI leaves mixed legacy on clergy sexual abuse (religionnews.com)
- Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests weighs in on Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to resign (tauntongazette.com)
- Pope Benedict’s One Unforgivable Failure – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Senior clergy to testify over child abuse (news.theage.com.au)
- Pope Benedict XVI: Victims said he didn’t do enough to help survivors of abuse or punish offending church leaders (pennlive.com)
- Pope Benedict ‘complicit in child sex abuse scandals’, say victims’ groups (guardian.co.uk)