Dutch lawmakers are calling for a parliamentary hearing, today, after new allegations of abuse by the Catholic Church surfaced over the weekend. This time, an investigation by the newspaper NRC Handelsblad found that Catholic-run institutions had surgically castrated young boys.
The paper said it had uncovered at least 11 cases in the 1950s. According to The Guardian, the paper focused on one boy who complained about being sexually abused. Police took the boy to a Catholic psychiatric ward, where he was declared a homosexual and castrated.
As awful that sounds, perhaps the bigger story here is that back in 2010, the the Conference of Bishops and the Dutch Religious Conference formed a commission to investigate abuse in the church. In December, it issued a 1,100-page report, which detailed extensive abuse, but it did not mention castrations.
“That committee, led by Wim Deetman, a former education minister, was presented with evidence of the castration case when it was contacted by a friend of the young man, who was castrated in 1956, two years before his death in a road accident.
“Since the case emerged, the Deetman Commission has issued a detailed justification of its actions, contending that it was unable to reach any conclusions on the case from the evidence at its disposal.”
The Irish Times says that Dutch politicians aren’t buying that explanation and say now the whole report is under question.
“They’ve demanded that Mr Deetman, a member of the council of state, attends a special parliamentary hearing to give more details of why mention of the castrations was suppressed,” the Irish Times reports. “They say they also want to ask Mr Deetman why his report included no mention of allegations that in 1968 a high-profile politician with the Catholic People’s Party (KVP) attempted to help several priests convicted of abusing children to avoid serving prison sentences.”
In a commentary on The Guardian, Robert Chesal fleshes out those connections. The Catholic People’s Party merged with other Protestant parties to form the Christian Democrats, which happens to be the party of the commission’s chairman.
“It’s now clear that the critics were right when they complained that a church-installed commission of inquiry could not, or would not, get to the bottom of the abuse scandal,” writes Chesal. “There must now be an impartial inquiry whose integrity is beyond doubt. Only parliament can fulfil this role. And perhaps the first witness called to testify under oath should be Wim Deetman himself.”