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Tuesday 2 September  
Catholic Church abuse
Robert Chesal's picture
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Hilversum, Netherlands
Hilversum, Netherlands

Abuse in Dutch Catholic care: more evidence

Published on : 24 September 2011 - 9:00am | By Robert Chesal (image: ANP/ kued.org )
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Serious abuses went on unreported for years in Dutch Roman Catholic homes for the mentally disabled. They included sex offences, castration, secret medical experiments and possibly murder. One Catholic brother was banished to Africa for doing unethical brain research. Radio Netherlands Worldwide tracked him down.

Until recent years, most abuses in Dutch institutional care were kept out of the public eye. One exception was a scandal in 1978 involving medical experiments at 'Huize Assisië’, a Roman Catholic boarding school for mentally handicapped boys in the southern town of Udenhout.

Brain x-rays
The home's medical doctor and a Catholic nurse known as Brother Dionysius performed spinal taps on approximately 180 patients, including minors. They injected fluid and air into the patients' brains in order to take x-rays of the cerebral cortex. These were used for brain research which was quietly being carried out. After the injections, the patients suffered nausea and headaches for days. Their parents were neither asked for permission nor notified of the procedures.

Sent to Africa
When former employees blew the whistle, the doctor was sacked and ordered to pay a fine. Brother Dionysius was sent to Tanzania by his congregation. The case was discussed in the Dutch parliament, where MPs complained that the health inspector had given private institutions such as Huize Assisië a free hand.

"Nothing untoward"
Radio Netherlands Worldwide has discovered that Brother Dionysius is still working as a hospital nurse in the Tanzanian village of Sengerema, near Lake Victoria. Speaking to RNW by telephone, the 76-year-old brother said he had done "nothing untoward".

"What we did was happening at other institutions too," he said. "As the x-ray technician, I was carrying out the doctor's orders. It was none of my business whether the parents knew. I was fired after the story got out, but that was just to put a stop to all the fuss."

Lurid secrets
It was a rare example of institutional abuse becoming public knowledge. More often than not, such cases are swept under the rug where they remain for decades. But lately, some lurid secrets have come out in the open.

In a Dutch TV investigation, a former head nurse at 'Huize Sint Joseph’, a Catholic home for mentally disabled boys, alleged that one of his predecessors had fatally poisoned at least 20 patients in the early 1950s. The story caused ripples well beyond Heel, the small southern Dutch village where the institution has stood proud since the 19th century.

Indecent assault
Aside from alleged multiple murders, the media have revealed that there was both sexual and physical abuse at Huize Sint Joseph. The latest news dug up by investigative reporters: a rector at the home was convicted of indecent assault of minors in 1967. Two nurses who reported him were sacked and ordered to remain silent. Following his conviction, the rector requested a pardon so he could remain employed at a vocational school where he held a job as a teacher of Child Protection. The judge refused and gave him a short prison sentence.

Several people who formerly lived in Huize Sint Joseph say the Catholic brothers often beat the children in their care and locked them up in solitary confinement. Historian Annemieke Klijn wrote about the violence in a book about the home. She described the many forms of restraint and coercion the brothers used, including "a perhaps somewhat unrestrained smack".

Grave faults
Dr Klijn describes Huize Sint Joseph as an institution where many religious men worked with great dedication, but where the quality of care had grave faults. This was partly due to overcrowding and a lack of well-trained personnel.

Like many Roman Catholic care facilities in its day, it suffered from a lack of funds. Catholic homes for the disabled also resisted outside attempts to impose training to professionalize the quality of care. It is not known how widespread similar abuses to those at Huize Sint Joseph were at other Catholic care institutions.

Castration
A practice which was fairly widespread but not widely publicized until recent years was the chemical castration of patients. One of the institutions where this took place was the Sint Willibrordus home, a Catholic facility for the mentally ill in the Dutch town of Heiloo, north of Amsterdam. Among those castrated were priests who had committed sexual offences and seminary students who were thought unable to keep their libido in check.

Inquiry doubtful
So far, there appears to be little interest in a wide-ranging inquiry into abuses in Roman Catholic care for the mentally disabled. Member of the Upper House and medical ethics expert Heleen Dupuis questions the need for an inquiry. Dr Dupuis, who chairs the main Dutch trade organisation for providers of care to the disabled, says anyone found guilty of abuse must be punished. But she prefers to emphasize how much Dutch care has improved since decades past when so many abuses took place. "Thank God we no longer live in those times," she says.

(mw)

Discussion

Anonymous 3 July 2013 - 5:30am

I don't see any substantial difference between the facts adduced here and the terrible inhuman medical experiments practiced by the japanese on Russians,chinese etc. at secret laboratories of the Quantung army,by communists at the nkvd-kgb laboratories or by the Nazis in concentration camps. Those roman catholic "brothers" regarded mentally ill people as "undermen".They don't hold for crimes what they did.As that roman catholic "brother" said,"I didn't do anything untoward".But if we asked all those criminal "brothers" what they think of abortion,they would answer unanimously that it is a crime "against god and humanity".It is more than obvious the hypocrisy of those "god servants". Every religion is a totalitarian ideology which "wash-brains" its adherents and every church is a totalitarian organization which holds its adherents under a strict constant control.Crimes againts humanity and all other evil deeds are immanent to it,just like to every totalitarian regime,totalitarian or secret organisation. 

Bernie 2 November 2012 - 11:59am / qmeiUVjhzcbCjqSwNbV

I think it's not just a matter of time, Sheldon, but also one of enciomocs. The state cannot be as totalitarian as some of its officials, and the state itself by its very nature, desire to be. For one thing, people will always resist full compliance. For another, if the state is too draconian, it will suffocate the host on which it feeds. The US state, like most fascist ones, appears to have adapted to allow the bare minimum of market transactions, nominal private property rights, and regime certainty in order to allow an economy strong enough for it siphon off the sufficient funds to live fat and conduct its imperial adventures and social engineering experiments. But I do agree that, qualitatively, the state now claims total power over every aspect of our lives. Parents can't smoke in the car with a kid? Such a regulation is more insidious than even some libertarians might think, as it further socializes family life. When the feds started telling kids to turn in their parents if they caught them smoking dope, that was a huge step in this direction. Soon it might be like Communist China, with family members always spying on one another.The new enemy combatant doctrine whereby the executive can strip any person it chooses of all due process rights, torture and kill him or her is also a frightening development in the slide toward totalitarianism.Yes, we still have more robust freedom of speech than do other peoples, or even Americans at previous times. But if not many people complain, the state doesn't mind so much if they do. Perhaps free speech will be one of the last freedoms to go. (Of course, we don't have full freedom of speech, as is seen in the campaign laws, the pornography laws, the commercial advertising laws, the FCC regulations, and more.)

Jin Micro 2 March 2012 - 3:09pm

"Every religion is a totalitarian ideology which "wash-brains" its adherents and every church is a totalitarian organization", and what are your supporting facts with your statements? If you do have, please tell me. -

hrh 23 March 2012 - 9:07pm / usa

If you have to ask that question, you are either being facetious, or probably a product of home schooling.

Hiram1 25 September 2011 - 6:14pm

"Actually,the American settlers lived in a completely totalitarian religious society."...Andrei, you know nothing about about the American settlers. Religious and non-religious people played a great part in the building of America. Those founders of America and those coming into America at the present time all brought with them their religious baggage. If it was a "totalitarian religious society" as you stated, you wouldn't find so many religious beliefs as there are today. Now, if you want to find a "totalitarian religious society", go to an Islamic country.

Andrei Yudin 25 September 2011 - 10:03pm / Moscow,Russia

"Andrei,you know nothing about the American settlers...".Why do you think you know it better than me?What non-religious man who played a great role in the building of America can you name?None.All were religious.Then,you didn't get my point.Actually,that's true,there were enough sects and religious beliefs in the early America.I just said,the life of an individual at least in the first most religious centuries of the American history was strictly controlled by his religious community,his neighbours etc.So it was very far from being "free".The majority of those who went to America didn't go there because of religious persecutions but for other reasons.And those who emigrated there found there,yes,freedom to profess their religions but not personal freedom,because personal freedom doesn't consist only in professing one's religion.
In brief,it was a bit like emigrating from a communist totalitarian country to a Nazi totalitarian country or from both of them to an islamic totalitarian country.

Hiram1 26 September 2011 - 12:55am

"Why do you think you know it better than me?"...Response: I never said I did. What I do know is that you know nothing about the settlers. I know of one American who was not "strictly controlled by his religious community,his neighbours etc"; and, his name was Thomas Jefferson. Many of American's founding fathers were religious people and many were not. Again I say you know nothing about the America settlers because of your statement "All were religious." All men, my friend, are not religious. If you don't believe me, just go to a Catholic church. Don't use the word "all" to prove your point. Unless you say "all" American settlers were not religious. And, that statement would still be hard to prove.

Tony de New York 24 September 2011 - 10:20pm / USA

"Every religion is a totalitarian ideology which "wash-brains" its adherents and every church is a totalitarian organization"

WHAT AN IDIOTIC COMMENT!usa

Andrei Yudin 25 September 2011 - 12:08am / Moscow,Russia

It is IDIOTIC to say that people fled from England and other countries to American colonies and then USA for "freedom" as it is stated in the "American myth".Yes,those American settlers were not persecuted for their concrete beliefs any longer but in America they fell under the totalitarian control of the religious communities they belonged to,which run all their social and private life.Actually,the American settlers lived in a completely totalitarian religious society.

Andrei Yudin 24 September 2011 - 1:33pm / Moscow,Russia

I don't see any substantial difference between the facts adduced here and the terrible inhuman medical experiments practiced by the japanese on Russians,chinese etc. at secret laboratories of the Quantung army,by communists at the nkvd-kgb laboratories or by the Nazis in concentration camps.
Those roman catholic "brothers" regarded mentally ill people as "undermen".They don't hold for crimes what they did.As that roman catholic "brother" said,"I didn't do anything untoward".But if we asked all those criminal "brothers" what they think of abortion,they would answer unanimously that it is a crime "against god and humanity".It is more than obvious the hypocrisy of those "god servants".
Every religion is a totalitarian ideology which "wash-brains" its adherents and every church is a totalitarian organization which holds its adherents under a strict constant control.Crimes againts humanity and all other evil deeds are immanent to it,just like to every totalitarian regime,totalitarian or secret organisation.

Rhonda Johnston 24 September 2011 - 11:26am / U.S.A.

While this may have happened years ago, it doesn't mean that it's over. The people responsible for the torture, abuse and castrations MUST be held responsible. Would you just sweep this under the rug if it was your child or relative?

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