Catholic Church Abuse: Boy Victims Castrated To 'Cure' Homosexuality In '50s

Catholic priests walk in line to attend the funeral ceremony for the late former President Havel at Prague Castle's St. Vitus Cathedral
Catholic priests walk in line to attend the funeral ceremony for the late former President Vaclav Havel at Prague Castle's St. Vitus Cathedral December 23, 2011. Reuters

Continued developments in the sexual abuse and mistreatment of underage boys came to light in a Dutch newspaper over the weekend, including at least one and perhaps as many as 10 cases of castration in the 1950s to help with homosexual tendencies.

One case of genital mutilation by the Catholic church has been confirmed by NRC Handelsblad, a major Dutch paper. Henk Heithuis, a victim, reported sexual abuse by two Catholic priests who were convicted. Despite the official ruling, he was then placed by authorities into a psychiatric home run by the Roman Catholic Church. There, he was castrated, supposedly at his own request, though no documentation of his own consent was offered. Sources say castration was an accepted cure for homosexuality but also was punishment for reporting sexual abuse. Substantial evidence has come to light in at least nine other cases, the NRC reported.

These cases are anonymous and can no longer be traced, Joep Dohmen, the investigative journalist who uncovered the claims, said. There will be many more. But the question is whether those boys, now old men, will want to tell their story.

Evidence came to light Monday that Dutch government workers were aware of the castrations as well. Minutes from meetings in the 1950s showed official residence inspectors were present when castrations were discussed. The same documents said Catholic administrators at the institutions believed that parents need not be involved in deciding their own fate.

The findings were not included in the official Deetman report that was issued at the end of 2011. That document was released as a special investigation into allegations of sexual abuse in the church.

Khadija Arib, a Labour MP, told the publication: I am shocked that boys were being castrated in the 1950s. I want an independent investigation. We must find out how many cases there were, who knew about it and why the government did not act.

Allegations indicate that knowledge of the outrages went as high as then-Prime Minister Vic Marijnen, who died in 1975.

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