Thousands and thousands of children suffered from sexual abuse in the Dutch Roman Catholic Church over more than six decades, and about 800 "possible perpetrators" have been identified, an independent Commission of Inquiry said Friday.At least 105 of the 800 are still alive.
"Several tens of thousands of minors have experienced mild, serious and very serious forms of inappropriate sexual behavior. Victims have often suffered for decades from the effects of abuse and have received acknowledgment of the fact," the panel says in its report. "This has caused problems for them, their immediate family and their friends, who require attention and sometimes professional counseling."
The report, which covers a period from 1945 to 2010, says "the scale" of the abuse "is relatively small in percentage terms, but is a serious problem in absolute numbers." The victims were under the responsibility of the range of people working in the church -- priests, brothers, pastoral workers and lay persons, it says.
For those who have been abused recently, there has been recourse through the courts, but many of the abusers in older cases will go unpunished.
However, an admission of this size and scope should cause the Church to reconsider its approach to sexual abuse by its members and leaders beyond what has already been done. It needs to do more to make those subject to abuse whole.