|Dutch Clerical Abuse Victims to Join Rome Rally
October 8, 2010
An international meeting in Rome of victims abused by Catholic priests will also be attended by dozens of Dutch citizens. Abuse victim Ton Leerschool announced the news in an open letter to the Deetman inquiry. In it, he asks bishops to offer a public apology.
Mr Leerschool, who was abused by a Catholic priest, has taken the initiative to send a Dutch delegation to the gathering at Saint Peters´ Square on 31 October. The event will include a wake and will see witnesses tell of their experiences.
Mr Leerschool works as a volunteer at the Foundation Men Support after Sexual Abuse. He is critical of the Dutch government for not setting up a helpline. Currently, he says, there is only the Deetman inquiry. If such a helpline existed, Mr Leerschool claims, more victims would come forward.
He has also cuestioned the commission´s methods. Christian Democrat politician Wim Deetman, who heads the inquiry, recently said he had been deeply impressed after meeting victims for the first time. Mr Leerschool, who attended two of such meetings, says the inquiry uses the information provided by victims "as historic, pathologic or statistical material" to build "a cold matrix".
Mr Leerschool has called on all Dutch bishops and the Conference of Dutch Clergy to "openly admit they have been wrong and damaged thousands of children". He also wants them to acknowledge "that the reputation and the power of the Church have come first and perpetrators, as a result, have not been handed over to the police, and the victims have not been treated in time."
He points out that, at the meetings, Mr Deetman stressed that the main aim is the recovery of the victims. Mr Leerschool emphasises that a public apology would be a good start.
The Deetman inquiry expects to issue its first conclusions, regarding psychological help, in November.
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