Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Voice of a Victim of Sexual Abuse by Priests in the Netherlands

     The scope of the hypocrisy involved in the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church is only getting broader, deeper, and darker.  The voices getting all the press are the Pope and the clerics under fire and their too late apologies.  The voices that are forgotten and not heard are the victims.

     Here is a clip of the reporting done by Radio Netherlands Worldwide that gives voice to Janne Geraets, a victim of sexual abuse by the Salesian of Don Bosco:
    Janne Geraets’ ordeal began in 1964, at the Don Rua monastery in the town of 's-Heerenberg in the east of the Netherlands. He was being trained by the Salesian Fathers of Don Bosco, in the hope of one day becoming a missionary. After a party, one of the priests lured Janne to the infirmary under the pretext of giving him medicine to ease his sore throat. "All of a sudden he was right up against me. He unzipped his trousers and forced my hand inside. I was in a state of utter confusion."
Absolution
    After the incident, Janne returned to bed. But the next morning he was summoned by the same priest. "I remember how my heart was pounding as I knocked on the door. He opened it and said 'That should never have happened'. He gave me absolution; he pardoned my sin. That confused me even more."
    Janne Geraets was summoned to that same room again and again. "He would lie on his couch and put me on top of him, riding back and forth. I remember a knock at the door on one occasion. I tried to scream, but no sound came out. I wanted to yell 'this isn’t right, this isn’t allowed'. But there was no one to turn to. You’re too afraid to say anything. You think you are the dirty one and that they’ll throw you out of school."
Large-scale abuse
    At the boarding school in ’s-Heerenberg, 80 to 100 boys between the ages of 12 and 18 slept in four large dormitories. "Sometimes you knew for sure: there’s something going on between that boy and that priest. And that other priest has a number of boys up in his room. It happened on a large scale. Several of the priests were involved.”
    Janne Geraets thinks that not all of the contact was involuntary. “Some priests were more popular than others. You could tell because more boys visited them." The priest who abused Janne is now 98 years old. "Everything I held sacred turned out to be a fa├žade," says Janne. "It was a huge blow to my self-confidence."
    Click here to go to rest of the article where there is also a recording of a radio interview with some of the victims of the sexual abuse by the Salesian fathers in the Netherlands.