Dutch Priests Suspended over Sex Abuse Claims

By Peter Cluskey
Irish Times
January 2, 2012

TWO DUTCH priests have been suspended on suspicion of child sex abuse in the 1970s and 1980s, following the publication of a report earlier this month which collated evidence of as many as 20,000 cases of abuse by Catholic clergy in the Netherlands between 1945 and 1985.

The priests – both of whom worked in the parish of St Lucas, in the Archdiocese of Utrecht, in the east of the country – were suspended after KLOKK, the umbrella organisation representing victims of child abuse, passed complaints against them on to the police and the church authorities.

One of the priests has been named by the church itself as Fr Bert Sturkenboom, who chaired the parish committee at St Lucas and was “team leader” of the five priests who worked in the parish before the suspensions. The second priest is understood to have worked regularly and said Mass in the market town of Putten, in the heart of the deeply traditional “Bible belt”, most of whose inhabitants are conservative Protestants. The Archdiocese of Utrecht refused to comment on the suspensions at the weekend, but it’s understood both cases are being investigated by the church authorities.

The government-appointed Deetman Commission reported earlier this month that more than 800 Catholic priests and monks had been involved in systematic abuse in boarding schools, orphanages and children’s homes. As few as 105 of them are still alive, and the government is considering removing the statute of limitations in cases of alleged child abuse to allow charges to be brought – which could lead to a string of high-profile court cases.


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