Cardinal Simonis witness in abuse case

RNW archive

This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011, the Dutch government decided to cut funding and shift RNW from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW Media’s current activities can be found at

The former head of the Catholic Church in the Netherlands, Cardinal Ad Simonis, will be called to a court hearing concerning a sexual abuse case in the Catholic Church.

A spokeswoman from the court in Middelburg,in the southern province of Zeeland, confirmed on Tuesday that the cardinal is one of the witnesses called by the victim's lawyer to attend a provisional witnesses' examination.

No details have been released about the other witnesses. The court's spokeswoman said all the specifics relating to the case will be made known in the beginning of November. The lawyer is demanding damages on behalf of his client. The sexual abuse victim is seeking compensation from the diocese of Breda in the southern province of North Brabant.

Earlier this year, Cardinal Simonis sparked off controversy when he said that church leaders were not aware of sexual child abuse in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Speaking on the TV programme Pauw & Witteman on 23 March 2010, 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. He claimed that in his 38 years as a bishop he had been aware of no more than ten cases of abuse.


© Radio Netherlands Worldwide