Dutch lawmakers call for Church castration claims debate

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Dutch lawmakers have called for a parliamentary debate after a media report that local Catholics castrated children in the 1950s to "cure" homosexuality, a party spokeswoman said Monday.

The call followed an NRC Handelsblad newspaper investigation published Saturday which said at least a dozen children were castrated in order to "cure them of their sexual orientation".

It focused on the case of a man named Henk Hethuis, who it said was castrated by priests in 1956 after testifying in a police investigation about child abuse in a Catholic boarding school in the eastern Gelderland province.

After he testified Hethuis was taken to a Catholic psychiatric institution and was "castrated because of his homosexual behaviour," the paper said.

A commission set up to probe sex-abuse claims from 1945 to the present day last year found that tens of thousands of children were sexually abused within the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands.

But Hethuis' case, reported by 79-year-old Cornelius Rogge, was never investigated as the Deetman Commission "found too few connection points for a further investigation" into castration claims.

"More abuse seems to have taken place which has not been put into the report of the (Deetman) commission," Laura Huisman, spokeswoman for Premier Mark Rutte's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) told AFP.

"We want a session and debate as soon as possible to find out why this investigation was not done," she said.

"If the facts are correct, we are speaking of a serious situation that is being condemned by the (Catholic) Church," added Dutch Bishops' Conference spokesman Bert Elbertse. He pledged the Church would work closely with the investigation should it take place.

The Deetman Commission report, released in mid-December said tens of thousands of children were abused and identified 800 perpetrators of sexual crimes within the Catholic Church between 1945 and 2010.

The Church has been rocked for several years now by a series of scandals involving paedophilia including in Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Germany and the United States.

© 2012 AFP

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