Dutch Catholic leaders call for external investigation of sex abuse cases

.- Following meetings between leaders of religious orders in Holland and members of the Dutch Bishops’ Conference, the Dutch Church announced that it will seek an “external, broad and independent” inquiry into cases of possible sexual abuses in religious schools. They asked for forgiveness and assured that they will listen to victims.

The Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano (LOR) reported that, after a meeting on Tuesday near Utrecht, Dutch bishops and members of the Dutch religious conference released a statement that said they were “profoundly struck” by the news of abuses.

Calling the abuses a “painful discovery” and a “sin,” they affirmed that “every form of sexual abuse must be powerfully condemned.” The religious leaders also noted that these cases are “in contrast with the Gospel and with the dignity of the human being.”

The group of Catholic leaders also said they must "confess that in the last half of the last century the attentive care of children and young people by a certain number of priests and religious was lacking.”

The dates of the three verified cases range from 1950 to 1970, but around 200 more have been reported to the Catholic organization “Hulp en Recht,” which is working to assist victims in Holland.

The bishops and religous leaders relayed their “true sympathy with and respect” to the victims, “especially towards the smallest among us.”

They asked for forgiveness, asserting that their first priority is to give a voice to victims to get to the bottom of the situation. The group also urged victims to get in contact with directors of orders, congregations and dioceses.

According to LOR, Will van de Ven, the spokesman for the Dutch Religious Conference, said that “the inquiry will be brought about as soon as possible.”

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