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, according to the Catholic News Service.
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. The fact that people were unsurprised by these latest claims suggests our image couldn't get any worse," 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.
"We knew there were castrations in the 1950s and 1960s, but we didn't know the church had any connection," Elbertse told Catholic News Service March 22.
"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," he said.
Dutch church promises cooperation in investigation of castration claims (U.S. Catholic/Catholic News Service)
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