The Dutch Conference of Religious Orders also apologized, calling the abuse “a dark chapter in the history of religious life.”
“We want to apologize for these mistakes and we want to never make them again,” the conference said in an open letter to all victims.
The commission said about 800 priests, brothers, pastors or lay people working for the church were named in the complaints. About 105 of them were still alive, although it was not known if they remained in church positions, the report said. It did not release their names and identified them as “perpetrators” rather than “offenders,” meaning they had not been proven to have committed a crime.
Prosecutors said in a statement that Deetman’s inquiry had referred 11 cases — without naming the alleged perpetrators — to them.
Prosecutors opened only one investigation based on those reports, saying the other 10 did not contain enough detailed information and adding that they also appeared to have happened too long ago to prosecute. Had the case files contained enough information to trigger an investigation, prosecutors could have asked for the identities of the suspected abusers.
Deetman said the inquiry could not establish a “scientific link” between priests’ celibacy and abuse, but he added, “we don’t consider it impossible … maybe if there was voluntary celibacy a number of problems would not have happened.”
According to the Dutch Central Bureau for Statistics, 29 percent of the Dutch population of 16 million identified themselves as Catholics in 2008, making it the largest religion in the country.