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Saturday 1 November  

Church sex abuse: Holocaust denial echoed

Published on 24 March 2010 - 10:31am
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The former head of the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands, Cardinal Ad Simonis, says the church leaders were not aware of child sex abuse in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

More details on Dutch victims of abuse within the church

Speaking on the TV programme Pauw & Witteman on Tuesday evening, he said - in German - "wir haben es nicht gewusst" and added "I know that is a very dangerous remark and heavily loaded, but it's true."

The remark in question, meaning "we didn't know about it" and referring to the Holocaust, was repeatedly used by Nazi defendants at the Nuremberg trials after World War II.

Cardinal Simonis said many things were hidden from the church leaders because a bishop does not have direct authority over the various orders of clergy within the church. Cases of abuse would have been dealt with at a different level. In his 38 years as a bishop, he added, he had been aware of no more than ten cases of abuse.

The cardinal said he was "extremely shocked" and "ashamed" by the recent flood of complaints about sexual abuse of children in Catholic institutions. The church's own abuse helpline has received 1100 reactions so far. It's not known how many of these are formal complaints.

Cardinal Simonis denied there was any direct connection between child abuse and the celibacy of priests. He said it could have been the result of "insufficient preparation for the celibacy and a poor selection of candidates." He regarded abuse of positions of power as "certainly another factor".

Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin has announced he is considering extending the time period after which the statute of limitations applies to cases of child abuse. The cases which have recently come to light are all too old to go to court.


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  • Cardinal Ad Simonis

Discussion

LeoGerritsen 28 March 2010 - 1:59am / Netherlands

The people that say "Wir haben es nicht gewusst" are the ones that hide behide a big lie. They knew, the germans knew, the catholics knew. That they cover up I understand the financial implications are tremendous.
All forbidden fruit is exciting, so whatever mankind rules out will be cherished by some people that want to know how it tastes.
Denial, suppression of ones own sexuality is not helping for a balanced way of life.
Here is an url to one view of point : http://sexualgriot.blogspot.com/2007/10/celibacy-blessing-or-disease.html

JayV 24 March 2010 - 10:42pm / USA

GSW made a good point. Thanks Robert for the reply (Good that RNW reads comments!)

'he said he handled them "well", but he gave few details'

Message to the Bishop: "That dog don't hunt," as the saying goes in Texas. There's a vast difference between his "well" and the victims' "well" if you read statements of victims here and in NRC. Well, let's hope that the court testimony will give more details about Simonis's pastoral care to victims.

Vera Gottlieb 24 March 2010 - 6:24pm / Germany

How stupid do these church leaders think we are?

gsw 24 March 2010 - 2:39pm / UK

"In his 38 years as a bishop, he added, he had been aware of no more than ten cases of abuse."

And, did he report these to the police?
Are the perpetrators in prison?
Did the children get counselling?

Why wasn't he asked these questions?

user avatar
Robert Chesal 24 March 2010 - 3:43pm

 Dear GSW

The cardinal was asked whether he reported these cases to the police and he said no, he had not. He claimed that this was because such cases were not generally reported to the police at that time. He said it was a time when sexual abuse was seen in a different light than today. When asked how he handled these 10 cases, he said he handled them "well", but he gave few details. He said he arranged for psychological counselling and pastoral guidance for the victims.

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