Posts Tagged “‘s-heerenberg”

St. John's Cathedral, 's-HertogenboschThe Roman Catholic child-abuse scandal has reached into yet another country … the Netherlands. The NRC Handelsblad reports on the most recent expansion of what is becoming one of the worst ecclesiastical scandals in history (WebCite cached article):

Amid the high-profile child sexual abuse scandals in the United States and other European countries, the reputation of the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands has remained unsullied. A joint investigation by NRC Handelsblad and Radio Netherlands Worldwide shows this is unjustified. …

At the boarding school in ’s-Heerenberg, 80 to 100 boys between the ages of 12 and 18 slept in four large dormitories. “Sometimes you knew for sure: there’s something going on between that boy and that priest,” said [abuse victim Janne] Geraets. It happened on a large scale. Several of the priests were involved. Some priests were more popular than others. You could tell because more boys visited them.” The priest who abused him is now 98 years old. “Everything I held sacred turned out to be a facade,” said Geraets. “It was a huge blow to my self-confidence.”

The article goes on to relate several examples of abuse by Catholic priests, as well as failures to deal with it. It concludes with denials of anything wrong by the Catholic hierarchy in the Netherlands:

In the period that Janne Geraets was abused at the Don Rua school, the current bishop of Rotterdam, Ad van Luyn, was working there as a teacher. In the 1970s, Van Luyn was provincial head of the Salesians. Since 2008 he has chaired the Netherlands’ Synod of Bishops.

Ad van Luyn declined to discuss “past issues”. Through a spokesman, he said that “matters relating to the congregation are the responsibility of the current father superior, even if they relate to previous governors”.

Father Herman Spronck, currently the most senior Salesian in the Netherlands, denies all knowledge of abuse in ‘s-Heerenberg, and refers all inquiries to his predecessors. He is not opposed to an investigation and is keen to emphasise that sexual abuse goes against the vow taken by the fathers of Don Bosco. “At Don Bosco, the inviolable sanctity of youth is key to our system of education.”

Well, I guess that concludes the matter. Child abuse is against their vow so it cannot possibly have happened! Thanks for clearing that up for us, Fr Spronck.

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