Netherlands: Catholic Church ‘castrated boys as gay cures and punishments’

Stephen Gray March 20, 2012
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A newspaper in the Netherlands claims to have uncovered cases in which boys in Roman Catholic care over half a century ago were castrated to stop them being gay or to punish them for uncovering abuse.

NRC Handelsblad is reporting that more than ten teenage boys and young men were surgically castrated to try to rid them of homosexuality and that Catholic carers castrated boys who blew the whistle on abuse.

Wim Deetman’s inquiry into sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands was reportedly sent evidence of the castrations but the allegations were not followed up in the final report.

The paper says in 1956 20-year-old Henk Heithuis was castrated after he reported priests to the police following abuse at the Catholic care home in which he was living.

The NRC reporter said Mr Heithuis was admitted to a Catholic psychiatric unit after two priests were convicted of abusing him, and according to records was castrated at a hospital in the southern town of Veghel at his own request.

No record of his consent was found and at 20, he would have been below the country’s age of majority in the 1950s. Mr Heithuis died two years later in a car accident.

The reporter was told castrations were used as punishment for those who reported abuse and as a general cure for homosexuality.

The Commission said no findings on the castration of abused boys were published in the report, which acknowledged widespread abuse in the Church, because they had found “too few leads for further investigation”.

While it said the risk of minors being subject to sexual advances was twice as great in institutions as the national average of 9.7 percent, the report found there was no significant difference between Roman Catholic institutions and other institutions for children.

It also said that while tens of thousands of minors were subjected to “inappropriate sexual behaviour” ranging from “mild” to “very serious” in the Roman Catholic Church between 1945 and 2010, the figure “differs little from the incidence of abuse among non-Catholics”.

The report found that between 0.3 and 0.9 percent of the Dutch population over 40 had experienced a sexual advance by a person within the Catholic Church when they were a minor.

While the 1,100-page document uncovered regular abuse of children, it said that the media had presented a “distorted” view of abuse within the Church when such abuse was actually widespread in the country, saying that analysis of the reports submitted to it led to an impression based “mainly on the experiences of persons who were willing to tell their stories to journalists”.

A parliamentary investigation into the castration claims is expected to be called for by ministers today.

More: abuse, Catholic Church, child abuse, Church, Commission, Crime, Dutch, Europe, inquiry, Law, Netherlands, Roman Catholic Church, sex abuse, the Netherlands

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