Priest holding the hand of a woman © Paul Sklorz (KNA)
Abuse cases also in other religious communities: an investigative report commissioned by the Old Catholic Church in the Netherlands criticizes the "passive" attitude of church leadership toward abuse cases in its own ranks.
At least seven clergy of the Old Catholics (OKKN) have been guilty of sexual abuse in recent decades, the Dutch newspaper Trouw quotes from the report of an investigative commission commissioned by the church in 2017. How many people were affected was unclear, it said.
Offenders given new opportunities?
In the report of the interdisciplinary commission, consisting of a psychologist, an educator and a lawyer, the role of the church leadership is criticized in particular. There had been no clear policy of action. When cases of abuse could no longer be denied, he did not react adequately. For example, those responsible would have been looking for ways to give the perpetrators a new chance. Cases were often not investigated more closely.
The small parishes of Old Catholics, where members usually know each other, have kept many affected people from coming forward to church leaders, the report says. Many of the people the commission spoke to wanted to remain anonymous.
No more celibacy for Old Catholic priests
According to media reports, the Old Catholics have 30 parishes in the Netherlands, which 5.000 to 8.000 faithful belong to. The church leadership is democratically elected. Old Catholic Archbishop Joris Vercammen has been at the helm of the church since 2000.
For Old Catholic priests in the Netherlands, celibacy no longer applies since 1922.