Dutch RC church and the castrations of 1950s and 60s

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Source: NRC Handelsblad

Joep Dohmen

Date April 18 2012

[ The following is an unofficial translation from the Dutch. The reference to a minor who was sexually abused at Harreveld and then sent off to be castrated is reference to young Henk Heithuis who was sexually abused by Brother Gregorius.   Scroll down for the original article in Dutch. ]

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Roman Catholic church pressured surgeons to perform castrations of homosexual men and boys. That has become evident from the testimony of academic researchers/experts who testified at a hearing of the Dutch Legislature (Parliament).

Professor – Medical History, Mart van Lieburg reported he had spoken with 2 surgeons. They confirmed that they received direct orders to castrate from a bishop. Van Lieburg did not say who this bishop was. Following the hearing, Van Lieburg gave the following further explanation: “I spoke with 2 surgeons. From one of them I learned that the bishop, who is still alive, pressured him to castrate a homosexual man.”

Historian Marnix Koolhaas reported that priests who heard confession also referred homosexual boys directly to surgeons. Koolhaas does not know how many cases of these referrals occurred. “But it could have been a practise which was not uncommon/unusual” according to Koolhaas.

Federal Dutch lawmakers are now considering an investigation into the role of psychiatry in castrations of the 1960s.

Dutch lawmakers heard the reports of these academic researchers, in response to recent reports in the NRC Handelsblad, which detailed how a minor who was resident of a boarding school (Harreveld) had reported abuse from catholic brothers at the Harreveld facility. After this report, he was taken to a catholic psychiatric facility in Boekel. He was then castrated in a catholic hospital because he was homosexual.

In addition to considering an investigation into the role of psychiatry in the castration of men and boys during the 1960s, the role of the Department of Justice is also being considered for further investigation by the members of parliament. The researchers cautioned the members of parliament that any investigators who will be searching through the archives need to be provided with political protection (they are implying there will be negative pressure brought to bear or the process will be obstructed). Without this protection, it is not certain that the archives will be made available. “These archives are private property” said historian Theo van der Meer.

Prior to hearing the academic experts, the parliamentarians heard from Han Moraal of the Federal Crown Prosecutor’s Office. He surprised the Dutch lawmakers by reporting that his Ministry had just uncovered archival material of many (multiples of 10) cases of sex offenses by clerics in the 1950s and 1960s. The newly found materials are the correspondence files of a former crown prosecutor from Den Bosch (see postscript). References were found to 54 files of sex offenses by clerics. In 22 cases these led to sentencing. In another 18 cases an investigation was lauched but the outcome of the investigations is unclear. At this time, these outcomes are still to be determined by the Ministry.

Furthermore, Moraal reported that federal investigators (detectives) undertook several investigations regarding sexual abuse in Harreveld. These investigations involved 19 clerics. These investigations resulted in 6 clerics being found guilty and sentenced.

The Ministry was unable to obtain any records of forced castations of boys who resided at Harreveld Institution.

According to Moraal, the Department of Justice was very active and thorough in prosecuting these matters during the 1950s and 1960s. “Prosecuting the offenses was simply done (and not avoided).” This statement is contrary to media reports which indicate that — especially in the southern dutch provinces, catholic clerics could count on special treatment from catholic justice officials.

Moraal does not believe there will be new information and that further disclosures will surface. His department already investigated prosecutions for sexual abuse in the RC church but this was limited to 1980-2010. The fact that additional information was found is entirely a fluke. The elected representatives were not reassured by this statement. Parliamentarian Toorenburg (Party: CDA) was alarmed that with some added effort and research, new information was discovered. Parliamentarian Arib (Party; PvdA) asked why there had not been an earlier search for documentation. “This surprises me a great deal!”

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Kerk drong bij chirurgen aan op castratie homo’s

ncr.nl

18 April 2012

door

Binnenland

De Rooms-Katholieke Kerk heeft in de jaren vijftig en zestig bij chirurgen aangedrongen op castratie van om homoseksuele jongens en mannen. Dat blijkt uit verklaringen van wetenschappers die vanmorgen gehoord zijn door de Tweede Kamer.

Hoogleraar medische geschiedenis Mart van Lieburg meldde dat hij met twee chirurgen had gesproken. Zij bevestigden dat ze van een bisschop rechtstreeks opdrachten tot castratie kregen. Om welke bisschop het gaat zei Van Lieburg niet. Na afloop van de hoorzitting nuanceerde Van Lieburg zijn verklaring: “Ik sprak met twee chirurgen. Van een van hen hoorde ik dat de bisschop, die overigens nog leeft, had aangedrongen op castratie van een homoseksuele man.”

Historicus Marnix Koolhaas meldde dat ook pastoors die als biechtvader optraden, homoseksuele jongens rechtstreeks doorverwezen naar chirurgen. Om welke aantallen het gaat, weet Koolhaas niet. “Maar het kan een praktijk zijn geweest die niet ongebruikelijk was”, aldus Koolhaas.

Kamer overweegt onderzoek naar rol psychiatrie bij castratie in jaren zestig

De Tweede Kamer hoorde de wetenschappers naar aanleiding van berichten in NRC Handelsblad. Die krant meldde vorige maand hoe een minderjarige internaatsjongen die aangifte gedaan had van misbruik door katholieke broeders van het internaat Harreveld. Daarna was hij afgeleverd in een katholieke psychiatrische inrichting in Boekel. Vandaar uit werd hij in een katholiek ziekenhuis gecastreerd omdat hij homoseksueel was.

De Kamer overweegt een onderzoek naar de rol van de psychiatrie bij de castratie van jongens en mannen tot in de jaren zestig van de vorige eeuw. Ook de rol van justitie zou nader onderzocht moeten worden. De wetenschappers waarschuwden de Kamerleden dat onderzoekers die moeten speuren in de archieven “politieke dekking” moeten krijgen. Zonder die dekking is het niet zeker dat ook alle archieven opengaan. “Veel archieven zijn immers privébezit”, aldus historicus Theo van der Meer.

Verbazing in Kamer over vondst archiefmateriaal over tientallen oude zedenzaken

Voorafgaand aan de wetenschappers werd Han Moraal van het College van procureurs-generaal gehoord. Hij verbaasde, zo meldt persbureau Novum, de Kamerleden met de mededeling dat het Openbaar Ministerie afgelopen maandag toevallig gestuit is op archiefmateriaal over tientallen zedenzaken tegen geestelijken in de jaren vijftig en zestig. Het gaat om een correspondentiearchief van een voormalig procureur-generaal uit Den Bosch. Daarin wordt melding gemaakt van 54 dossiers die betrekking hebben op zedenzaken tegen geestelijken. In 22 zaken zou dit geleid hebben tot een veroordeling. In nog eens achttien zaken is vervolging ingesteld, maar onduidelijk is met welk resultaat. Dat wordt nog uitgezocht.

Moraal maakte verder bekend dat de Rijksrecherche verschillende onderzoeken heeft uitgevoerd naar ontucht binnen Harreveld, waarbij negentien geestelijken zouden zijn betrokken. Dat heeft geleid tot zes veroordelingen. Over gedwongen castraties van jongeren die in Harreveld verbleven heeft het OM niets kunnen vinden. Volgens Moraal heeft justitie in de jaren vijftig en zestig stevig opgetreden. “Er werd gewoon tot vervolging overgegaan.” Zijn uitlating staat haaks op berichten in de media, waaruit blijkt dat vooral in de zuidelijke provincies katholieke geestelijken vaker op een speciale behandeling konden rekenen van katholieke officieren van justitie.

Moraal verwacht niet dat hij nog meer informatie boven tafel kan krijgen. Het OM deed eerder onderzoek naar strafzaken over misbruik in de katholieke kerk, maar dat was beperkt tot de jaren tussen 1980 en 2010. Dat toch nadere informatie is gekregen, is te danken aan toevalstreffers, zei hij. De Tweede Kamer is er niet helemaal gerust op. Kamerlid van Toorenburg (CDA) schrok van het feit dat bij een beetje doorgraven toch nog nieuwe informatie boven water komt. Ook Kamerlid Arib (PvdA) vroeg waarom het OM dit niet meteen heeft onderzocht. “Hier ben ik heel verbaasd over.”

2 Responses to Dutch RC church and the castrations of 1950s and 60s

  1. Sylvia says:

    Note that 19 of the brothers at Harreveld were investigated following sex abuse allegations against them. The school was run by the Brothers of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows. It was brothers from this order who arrived in Nova Scotia in the Fall of 1956 and early 1957 to open a vocational school in New Glasgow. Brother Gregory, who abused the young boy who was later castrated, was one the group who arrived in ’57.

    In 1960 the brothers purchased property in Mabou. Upon reading this it is hard not to wonder if there were other brothers besides Gregory who were getting out of the country because they had been ‘caught.’ Bit by bit we are getting the names of the brothers who were in Mabou. Eventually we will hopefully have the names of the brothers in Holland who were accused and/or charged (It is my understanding that Brother Gregorius/Gregory managed to elude charges and, as we know, wound up in Canada)

    Note too that 54 files of sex offenses by clerics have just been ‘found’!!!

    Unbelievable!

    And on top of it, word of the castrations, and the involvement of a bishop who is still alive.

    Is there a statute of limitations in Holland which will prevent the bishop from charged? Does anyone know? I hope not. He should most certainly be charged.

    Charges aside, I can not think of one word of Church teaching which advocates castrating anyone for nay reason. If what is reported is fact, then the bishop should/must be defrocked. The bishop’s name has not been mentioned yet, but I have a feeling it will be out int he public domain before too long.

    Another dirty rotten mess. But, this is good. The truth is slowly oozing out. In one corner of the world after another the truth is oozing out.

    I do believe the truth shall set us free.

  2. deeplybetrayed says:

    If the truth doesn’t set us free, it’s because we don’t want to be free or don’t know how.

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