The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Thursday, December 9, 2010
2,000 in Netherlands report being abused by predator priests
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell, [email protected])
We applaud each of the 2,000 brave men and women who report having been sexually violated as children by priests in the Netherlands. It takes real courage to disclose these horrific crimes and the Netherlands is no doubt a safer and healthier nation because of these caring individuals.
At the same time, our hearts ache when we think about such widespread, and largely preventable devastation. We firmly believe, based on our 22 years of experience, that the actual number of victims in the Netherlands is much higher than 2,000. Research shows that only a very small percentage of child sex victims ever report their suffering, and few are willing to talk about such horrors with church officials, whether paid or volunteer, ordained or lay people.
It’s distressing to read the commission head expressing a desire to “restore trust” in the church. That should be their least concern. When bishops take decisive and consistent steps to safeguard the vulnerable and heal the wounded, trust will automatically be restored. Until then, Catholics and citizens will continue to rightly feel betrayed by and skeptical toward a callous, reckless and deceptive church hierarchy.
Finally, we hope that every single person who saw, suspected or suffered crimes by child molesting clerics will come forward, get help, call police, protect others and start healing.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 22 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected]), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected])
Dutch want Catholic Church to address abuse - Dec 9, 2010 2:20 PM | By Reuters
Almost 2 000 people have declared themselves victims of sexual and physical abuse while they were minors in the care of the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands, an independent commission says.
The investigation into abuses dating back to 1945 shows that the Netherlands ranks second worst behind Ireland in a scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church in Europe and the United States. It has also forced Pope Benedict to apologise to victims of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests.
The church-appointed commission’s findings were requested by the Dutch bishops’ conference after cases surfaced involving paedophile priests in the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, Germany, Australia, Canada and the United States.
“I am very respectful of the people who came forward because declaring yourself a victim is a big step,” said Wim Deetman, a Protestant former education minister and former mayor of The Hague who heads the commission.
Asked whether the report could lead to pressure for a shake-up in the church hierarchy, Deetman said: “It is too soon to say that. We will see that at the end of next year after discussions with a lot of people. But the bishops conference has asked us to look at managerial responsibilities.”
Deetman urged the Church to set up an effective system of financial compensation for the victims, a special organisation to assist them and Church disciplinary action if needed.
“We have a list of perpetrators and we are in talks with some of them,” he said.
The commission will follow up at the end of 2011 to see whether its recommendations have been implemented.
Deetman said Church organisations had waited too long to come up with a professional approach to complaints about abuse.
“We want to regain trust and do justice to the victims. The question whether a case has expired (for purposes of legal action) or not should not be a guiding principle,” he said.
Deetman said his commission had informed the public prosecutor about a handful of cases.
Some Dutch cases have already gone to court, for example in the southwest town of Middelburg where a victim, now 34, is seeking financial compensation from a former priest, now 88.
Last month, the Salesian order of Dutch Catholic priests admitted to paying hush money to a victim of sexual abuse.
Victims in countries including Ireland, Austria, Italy and the pope’s native Germany came forward this year. Bishops in several European countries have resigned either because they were unmasked as abusers or had mishandled abuse cases.
Benedict has several times apologised for the abuses and the Vatican says tougher measures have been put in place to screen out seminarians who could become abusers.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests