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09 November 2011

Dutch church abuse victims need more than money

The Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands must provide more than just money to victims of sexual abuse, an independent commission appointed to investigate such crimes said.

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The Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands must provide more than just money to victims of sexual abuse, an independent commission appointed to investigate such crimes said.

The Deetman Commission, which is due to publish its final report next month, says the church should set up a centre to put sexual abuse victims in touch with appropriate care or other victims.

"Financial compensation alone is not enough. Nor is aid alone," said the commission, named after its chairman Wim Deetman, a Protestant former education minister and former mayor of The Hague.

The Dutch bishops' conference and Dutch religious conference said they had agreed to a separate commission's recommendations that the church should pay compensation to sexual abuse victims.

The Netherlands has one of the worst records in a scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church in Europe and the United States, and which has forced Pope Benedict to apologise to victims of sexual abuse by priests.

In a report published last year, the Dutch commission said 1,975 people had come forward saying they were victims of sexual and physical abuse while minors in the care of the Catholic Church in the Netherlands.

Second only to Ireland

That put it second only to Ireland in terms of the number of cases.

Tuesday's report urged the Church to respond appropriately to its findings by "recognising and empathising with the victims and their families in a manner satisfactory to everyone affected."

It said the proposed help centre should be run by the church along with two associations defending victims, it said.

The commission was set up to investigate sexual and physical abuses dating as far back as 1945, at the request of the Dutch bishops' conference after cases surfaced involving pedophile priests in the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, Germany, Australia, Canada and the United States.

It is due to publish its final report next month.

The proposal agreed to at bishops' conference recommended a sliding scale for victims, starting at 5,000 Euros and rising to a maximum of 100,000 Euros for "exceptional cases of sexual abuse".

(Reuters Health, Sara Webb, November 2011)

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