April 2, 2012

The Dutch Church has pledged to fully cooperate with investigations into reported claims that Catholic institutions castrated boys and young men in their care to rid them of homosexuality.

Bert Elbertse, spokesman for the Dutch Catholic bishops' conference, said the bishops found the reports "shocking and appalling" and that they "condemn and regret such practices in the strongest possible terms.

Our Church has been badly damaged by accusations of sexual abuse," he said.

Elbertse's comments followed a March 17 report by the NRC Handelsblad daily that as many as 11 boys were castrated at Church-run schools and psychiatric institutions in the 1950s after being suspected of homosexuality.

"Although the initial public reactions to this newspaper report were very negative, many people are now asking whether the use of castration had more to do with health care at the time than with the Church," Elbertse said.