Dutch church abuse scandal - more details

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 https://www.rnw.org/about-rnw-media.

Radio Netherlands Worldwide and NRC Handelsblad have received detailed information on accusations of sexual and physical abuse by priests, friars, brothers and nuns from across the Netherlands. RNW has also received information from emigrants who claim to have been abused in Dutch Catholic organisations in the past. 

Dutch former cardinal 'knew nothing'

In response to RNWs report on abuse at the Don Rua Monastery in 's-Heerenberg, published at the end February, 233 former Catholic school and seminary students have reported being abused. The number and range of the responses make it clear that the abuse took place at Catholic institutions across the Netherlands.

A total of 238 priests, friars, brothers and nuns have been accused of abuse. They are, or were, members of 48 different orders. Most of them worked in schools or seminaries in the provinces of North Brabant, Limburg and Gelderland, but a small number were involved in parochial or youth work.

There have been 48 reports of physical abuse and 218 reports of sexual abuse, including 17 accusations of serious sexual violence, such as rape. A number of people reported both physical and sexual abuse.

According to a breakdown of the accusations, there are 37 reports of abuse at institutions run by the Brothers of Charity, 31 by the Don Bosco Salesians, 27 by the Friars of Tilburg, 20 by the Brothers of Maastricht, 17 by the Jesuits and 13 by the Franciscans. Most of the report of physical abuse came from former pupils at the Eikenburg boarding school in Eindhoven, the Leo Association in Borculo and institutions, including the Huize Ruwenberg seminary, run by the Friars of Tilburg.

Most of the abuse took place in the 1950s - 80 reports- and 1960s - 109 reports. However, the lack of reports concerning instances of abuse in earlier decades is probably due to the fact that most of the victims are now dead. The steady decline in the number of abuse reports after the 1960s coincides with the closure of many boarding schools and seminaries.