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01/03/2010Dutch probe claims of 1960s Catholic child sex abuse
The Dutch Catholic Church will probe claims that pupils at a monastery school in the eastern Netherlands were sexually abused by priests in the 1960s, a church official said Monday.
"The Order of Salesians of Don Bosco has decided to open an investigation," Herman Spronck, the head priest of the order, which runs the Don Rua monastery in the town of 's-Heerenberg, told AFP.
Three possible victims have been identified, he said.
The inquiry was launched after a Dutch newspaper last Friday reported the testimony of a former pupil who claims to have been sexually abused while at Don Rua.
"Our first concern is for the victims," said Spronck. "They have the right to acknowledgement of the harm that was done to them."
The monastery hosted 80 to 100 children aged between 12 and 18 every year between 1958 and 1971.
A meeting of the Dutch Bishops' Conference on March 9 will determine whether to expand the probe to other orders and monestaries, said Spronck.
Repeated revelations of paedophile priests have rocked the Roman Catholic Church in recent months.
In November, it emerged that Church authorities in Ireland covered up for priests who abused children in the mainly Catholic country for three decades.
The order of Salesians was founded in 1859 by Italian priest John Bosco to help underprivileged young people. It has 16,000 member institutions worldwide, which 55 are in the Netherlands.
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