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The Netherlands: Bishops’ Conference issues declaration on abuse. “Transforming shame and suffering into prevention and rehabilitation of victims”

The statement issued yesterday, 10 September, by the Dutch bishops, which picks up on the issue of abuse following events in Pennsylvania and Australia, is five pages long. “Many believers continue to feel pain and shame at abuse reports that clearly show the suffering of the victims. The Dutch bishops share in this pain and in this shame”. The bishops in their statement “condemn sexual abuse, wherever it is committed”, but “above all in the Church, whose mission is to carry forward the Gospel of Christ”, and acknowledge that it is the bishop as such who has the “primary responsibility” to make the Church “a safe place” for children. “For this reason, we are deeply saddened by the fact that some bishops have not taken on this responsibility or even committed sexual abuse themselves”, reads the statement, which is intended to inform about “what the Catholic Church in the Netherlands has done and is doing when confronted with allegations of sexual abuse” involving staff in a Church context. The bishops also invited the faithful not to “let themselves be discouraged” by the emergence of new cases; rather, “let us transform our shame and pain into commitment to prevention and to the rehabilitation of the victims”.

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