Most Dutch Bishops are Felons

CRUX headline: “Over half of Dutch bishops shielded priest-abusers, according to report.” The article contains no link to any source, and is short on facts. After mentioning recent scandals in Pennsylvania and Germany, it says: “The NRC Handelsblad report claims 20 of 39 bishops during the period are implicated in at least covering up abuse, with four auxiliary bishops suspected of abusing minors themselves.”

These were old cases. Most of the bishops are already dead. All cases are beyond the statute of limitations. Findings were apparently based on independent investigations, not data provided by the Catholic Church.

These findings underestimate the magnitude of the problem. Annemie Knibbe, the director of the Women’s Platform on Child Abuse, said: “The archives of the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith in the Vatican [which are supposed to hold all records of clerical sexual abuse] are full of abuse cases that are not publicized. The local priest may still have the courage to stop a perpetrator, but the hierarchy is corrupt.”

The late Richard Sipe was a clinician and former priest who studied this problem for decades, and consulted for Boston’s Spotlight investigation. He wrote, “the abuse of minors is a highly underreported crime. The majority of victims never reveal what has happened to them.” Many believe that for every case that is reported, another six go unreported. Underreporting of crime implies underreporting of cover-ups.

The Church went to great lengths to cover-up criminal behavior by its bishops, and no doubt succeeded quite often. Even without Church cooperation, investigators found that most bishops were guilty of covering up these crimes. I think it likely that many others were also guilty, but got away with it. This massive corruption of the universal Catholic Church hierarchy occurs worldwide – not just in Holland.


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