Surgical removal of testicles was also a punishment for those who accused clergy of sexual abuse
There are also allegations that Vic Marijnen, former Dutch PM had links to the case
Dutch MPs will today call for a parliamentary investigation into the allegations
Dutch MPs will today call for an investigation into the case of young men under the age of 21 allegedly castrated in the 1950s by the Roman Catholic Church ‘to get rid of homosexuality.’
The government will come under pressure to probe what some claim is a cover-up of a scandal which saw boys’ testicles removed if they dared report abuse by the clergy.
MPs will raise the issue after a Dutch newspaper revealed details of the punishments – which had not been exposed by an official investigation into sexual abuse within the Church published last year.
The NRC Handelsblad, a daily evening paper in the Netherlands, identified a man called Henk Heithuis, as one of the young men who were castrated as well as nine other minors.
After reporting two monks to the police for abusing him in a Catholic boarding home, he was surgically castrated in 1956, when he was still a minor.
Cornelius Rogge, 79, a well-known Dutch sculptor who knew Mr Heithuis witnessed the phyiscal evidence of the castration.
‘We once asked Henk to drop his pants when the women were gone. He did that. He was maimed totally. It was a huge shock,’ he said reported The Telegraph.
Joep Dohmen, an investigative journalist who investigated the Heithuis case, says sources told him that the surgical removal of testicles was regarded as a treatment for homosexuality and also as a punishment for those who accused clergy of sexual abuse.
Mr Heithuis was castrated at the age of 20 – in 1956 he had accused Catholic clergy of sexually abusing him in his Church run care home.
Children in institutional care, regardless of religious affiliation, in the Netherlands were at substantial risk of being abused during the period, the molestation rate was 20 per cent, twice that of elsewhere.
Although the monks were convicted of the abuses, Mr Heithuis was still transported to a Catholic psychiatric hospital, and underwent a surgical castration.
Court papers confirm he was castrated ‘at his own request’, but there is not a submission of his written consent.
Mr Heithuis died two years after the castration in a car crash, but Mr Rogge felt compelled to report the castration to an official inquiry into abuse within the Catholic Church.
The investigation headed by Wim Deetman, a former Dutch minister, received 1,800 reports of sexual abuse by clergy or volunteers within Dutch Catholic dioceses in the period since 1945.
The Deetman inquiry received Mr Rogge’s report, but said ‘there were few leads for further research,’ so decided not to investigate.
The inquiry revealed that eight hundred Catholic clergy and church employees were guilty of abusing children over 40 years.
The newspaper investigation also revealed that government inspectors were aware that young men were being castrated while in Catholic-run psychiatric institutions.
Minutes of meetings held in the 1950s show that inspectors were present when castrations were discussed and that the Catholic staff did not think parents needed to be involved, even if the patients were minors.
There are also allegations that Vic Marijnen, who was a Dutch Prime Minister from 1963-65, had links to the case.
Not only was he a rising star in his political party, he was also vice-chairman of the Dutch Catholic child protection agency,.
Most importantly, in 1956, he was the chairman of the Gelderland children’s home where Mr Heithuis and other children were abused.
He intervened to have prison sentences dropped against several priests convicted of abusing children.
The commission said it did not report on the actions of Vic Marijnen because ‘the case was unmistakeably tied to circumstances which could be traced back to an individual person.’
Speaking of his findings Mr Dohmen said the cases could ‘no longer be traced.’
‘There will be many more. But the question is whether those boys, now old men, will want to tell their story,’ he added.
Today Dutch MPs are going to call for a parliamentary investigation into the allegations.
‘I am shocked that boys were being castrated in the 1950s,’ said Khadija Arib, a Labour MP.
‘I want an independent investigation. We must find out how many cases there were, who knew about it and why the government did not act.’