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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Politics, religion, and castration in the Netherlands

ABC Religion & Ethics had a past post - A Christian alternative to America's broken political duopoly - opining we need a Christian political party. I think it's a terrible idea - today I read an article showing why ...

Forcible castrations and the Dutch old boys' network
- Robert Chesal

The revelation that a number of minors, who were abused in Dutch Roman Catholic institutions, were also forcibly castrated has shocked the Netherlands. It casts grave doubt upon the recent findings of a commission set up to look into abuse in the church ..... We now know that former Dutch cabinet minister Wim Deetman did not meet the expectations he raised when he chaired the commission of inquiry into sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic church ..... We know this thanks to investigative journalist Joep Dohmen of the newspaper NRC Handelsblad .....

He discovered that the Deetman report failed to mention a certain political figure who tried to secure a royal pardon for Gregorius and other convicted Catholic brothers from Harreveld. That was Victor Marijnen, a former Dutch prime minister and leading member of the Catholic People's party (KVP). The KVP later merged with Protestant parties to form the Christian Democrats (CDA) – the political party of inquiry commission chairman Wim Deetman.

Marijnen was in an extraordinary position in the 1950s. Not only was he a rising star in his political party and a high-ranking civil servant in the agriculture ministry (then and today, a Christian political stronghold in the Netherlands), he was also vice-chairman of the Dutch Catholic child protection agency, and – most pertinently – director of Harreveld boarding school. The Deetman commission was aware of these connections and the potential conflicts of interest they represented. The commission was aware of Marijnen's letter to the queen on behalf of sexual abusers, too, but omitted these facts in its report .......

The bigger picture is this: Marijnen was just one member of a wider elite of Catholic notables who wielded vast power in the 1950s. They were captains of industry, chairmen of commissions, judges, high-ranking civil servants and politicians. They could reign supreme in Catholic circles thanks to the rigidity of Dutch society back then.

All of public and private life was organised around the church you belonged to. If you were Catholic, you married, shopped and voted Catholic. You knew, unquestioningly, what school you would attend and what clubs you could join. Dirty laundry was never aired in public, certainly not outside your religious community. And in this setting, a small group of men, the old boys' network that Marijnen belonged to, could hush up the abuse at Harreveld and other Roman Catholic institutions. In short, the Harreveld castration story reveals collusion between institutions, bishops, politicians, the police and the justice system that enabled sexual abuse in the church to continue unpunished for decades on end ....


Anonymous Religion And Politics said...

Religion and politics has to do with two spheres of activities in the life of the same persons. Citizens who belong to religious groups are also members of the secular society, and this dual association generates complications. Religious beliefs have moral and social implications, and it is appropriate for people of faith to express these through their activities as citizens in the political order. Thanks a lot.

9:15 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Thanks for the comment. Yes, I guess every aspect of our selves affects our choices - our gender, our ethnicity, our job - we vote as complex selves

12:17 AM  

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