Suspect children’s deaths in Catholic institutions

St Anna's institution in Heel

From Radio Netherlands Worldwide:

Investigation into deaths of boys in Catholic institution

Published on 16 August 2011 – 10:15am

The Dutch Public Prosecution Office is investigating the deaths of 34 boys in the early 1950s in an institution for the mentally handicapped in the southern province of Limburg. The deaths were reported by the Deetman Commission, which is investigating the sexual abuse of children in the Roman Catholic church.

Roman Catholic monks were responsible for the care of mentally-handicapped children in the former St. Joseph institution in the town of Heel near Roermond. An investigation of archives by the Deetman Commission has revealed that the number of deaths in the institution in the early 1950s was much higher than average. The death rate at the home increased in 1952, 1953 and 1954. It is not clear why the rate dropped back down after 1954. All the cases were boys under 18-years-old.

This information was made known at the end of the same decade to the diocese of Roermond, the government’s Labour Inspectorate, the former Catholic Alliance for the Protection of Children and possibly to the health inspectorate, reports regional daily Dagblad De Limburger. The home was run by the Catholic church until 1969, when it was taken over by the Daelzicht foundation.

The Public Prosecution Office refuses to comment on the causes of the 34 deaths. Although it has indicated to the Limburger that due to the lapse of time, no prosecutions can take place if any crimes were committed. The PPO wants to investigate what caused the deaths “with a view of the impact and extent of the case.” It is possible that the deaths were connected to sexual abuse.

Both the Public Prosecution Office and the Deetman Commission have declined to comment on how the suspicious deaths came to light back in the 1950s. The Public Prosecution Office was not aware of the possibly suspicious deaths of the 34 children. It is not known whether there was a conscious effort on the part of the church or other organisations to cover up the affair a half century ago.

The diocese of Roermond has issued a statement saying it welcomes the investigation and has opened its archives to encourage research. “We want to get away from the cover-up practices, have opened the archives and encourage this kind of research,” says a church spokesperson.

So, half a century after the children died, finally “away from the cover-up practices”. Now when not just those 34 children are dead, but when many of the perpetrators, and of the other victims have died in in the meantime.

Doctors had serious questions about the high children’s mortality figures there already in the 1950s, daily De Limburger says.

Also from Radio Netherlands Worldwide:

High death rate at girls’ Catholic home

Published on 17 August 2011 – 8:51am

Following revelations concerning the deaths of 34 boys in the 1950s in a Catholic home for the mentally handicapped, it has now been discovered that 40 girls also died in the same period between 1952 and 1954.

A regional TV channel requested information on the number of deaths at the St. Anna institution in the southern town of Heel near Roermond from local authorities and found that the most of the girls who died from 1952-1954 were younger than 12 years old. The deaths also included babies and toddlers.

The deaths of the boys at the former St. Joseph institution were reported by the Deetman Commission, which is investigating the sexual abuse of children in the Roman Catholic church.

Proportionally, even more St. Anna girls than St. Joseph boys died, regional TV L1 says.

NOS TV says about 40 girls died, nearly all of them under 12 years old. There will be no investigation yet about the St. Anna institution deaths.

Vatican pressures theology journal to publish essay on marriage, unedited and without undergoing normal peer review: here.

4 thoughts on “Suspect children’s deaths in Catholic institutions

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