We have ways of making you silent

It gets worse – the castration story.

The Toronto Star reports

The Deetman Commision, set up by two Catholic bodies, the Conference of Bishops and the Dutch Religious Conference, concluded last year that tens of thousands of children had been abused by Catholic clergy in the Netherlands since 1945.

The commission was set up by two Catholic bodies, one being the Conference of Bishops.

Hello? Fox? Henhouse? Custodiet? Custodies?

Mr Madoff, would you draw up a report for us on how you defrauded people out of billions of dollars?

Col Qadaffi, can we get you to set up a commission on torture and human rights abuses by your regime?

Mr Milosevic, could you and a few of your friends investigate war crimes in Bosnia for us, thanks so much?

It’s Radio Netherlands that first blew this open, along with NRC Handelsblad.

We now know that former Dutch cabinet minister Wim Deetman did not meet the expectations he raised when he chaired the commission of inquiry into sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic church. He did not get to the bottom of the abuse scandal or reveal all of the horrors that took place behind church doors in the Netherlands.

We know this thanks to investigative journalist Joep Dohmen of the newspaper NRC Handelsblad. Dohmen wrote about a boarding school student who had been sexually abused by a Dutch monk. When the former student reported the abuse to the police in 1956, he was brought to a Roman Catholic psychiatric ward, declared a homosexual and then castrated. The same surgery was probably performed on at least ten other schoolmates of his who tried to blow the whistle on abuse.

The main abuser in this case was ‘Gregorius,’ the brother superior of the Roman Catholic Harreveld boarding school in the east of the Netherlands.

And nothing was done about it because the elite didn’t want anything done about it.

The bigger picture is this: Victor Marijnen was just one member of a wider elite of Catholic notables who wielded vast power in the 1950s. They were captains of industry, chairmen of commissions, judges, high-ranking civil servants and politicians. And it was through this old boys network that abuse at Harreveld and other Roman Catholic institutions was covered up.

In short, the Harreveld castration story reveals collusion between institutions, bishops, politicians, the police and the justice system that enabled sexual abuse in the church to continue unpunished for decades on end.

Funny how similar to Ireland it sounds, when we don’t normally think of the Netherlands as in the grip of the church the way we do Ireland.




  1. crowepps says

    This are the people who want the right to withhold lifesaving medical care from pregnant women on the grounds that THEY are the experts in morality? I wouldn’t trust these people to bury a dead cat.

  2. mnb0 says

    “The Deetman Commision, set up by two Catholic bodies”
    “It’s Radio Netherlands that first blew this open”

    The only excuse for this nonsense is that you don’t read Dutch. I do and this is old news; all Dutch and most Flemish know about this since 2010 just by reading regular Dutch newspapers.
    Deetman is a protestant politician, not a church authority and has never been. His committee is independent. Still it got criticized from the very beginning by Dutch.

    “This are the people…..”
    This only shows painful ignorance of The Netherlands.
    Deetman does not want to withhold lifesaving medical care from pregnant women. Nobody, not even Dutch fundamentalists, wants. Don’t project your f*****g American problems on other countries; we Dutch have enough of our own. Fundamentalistic politicians like Santorum isn’t one of them.

    The same with castration, which came into the news recently.



    Translation of the headers: Church forbids castration since ages and In TBS-clinics castration was a popular remedy for years.
    TBS-clinics are run by Dutch psychologists paid by Dutch government.

    You better get your facts right before flaming the Catholic Church in The Netherlands (something I very much enjoy myself). You might get laughed at by catholics who know the facts better. This warning comes from a Dutch fellow atheist, one who actually cares about facts, even if they don’t confirm his anti-religious prejudices.

  3. Christoph Zurnieden says

    Custodiet? Custodies?

    May I assume that these two single-word-questions are meant to point to the following line of first-century satire?

    [sed] quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
    — Juvenal “Satura VI”, 346 f.

    That questions implicated the answer “eunuch” for those reading it at the time when it was written up to the 19th, part of 20th century.

    And I was sure that I am the one doing the really bad puns!

  4. Tim Harris says

    mnb0, people are working from a story that appeared in the Toronto Star. I think it would be helpful if instead of complaining bitterly about ignorant Americans (I am not, by the way American, but British and have lived in Japan for nearly 40 years), you would simply and calmly set out what you know so that misunderstandings, if any, can be corrected. We all should like to know the truth.

  5. M'thew says


    I’m not sure what you are trying to accomplish here. Reading the articles you linked, I get the impression that (1) catholic clergy was persuaded to see castration as a ‘cure’ for sexually deviant behaviour (even if it went against the position the RCC held); (2) castration was meant to be on voluntary basis and as part of a wider regime of treatment of their deviant sexuality (TBS/TBR); and (3) it was meant only for adults.

    Do you mean to say that it was not the case that some catholics consented to what was done to Henk Heithuis, a minor at the time and whose consent is doubtful at best? That it wasn’t the “Church” that allowed it to happen, perhaps even came up with this solution to a problem within one of their institutions (the problem being a ordained person being accused of sexually abusing someone in his care)? Whichever way you put it, what was done to Henk Heithuis reflects badly on the RCC, and perhaps Deetman, whichever flavour of christianity he subscribes to, was too much a member of the CDA (a party that had and still has an actively catholic wing) to be allowed to chair the committee.

    Can you perhaps cool down a little bit (like Tim suggests) and bring some sense in your writings, and then we can discuss this more fully.

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