The Catholic Church has seen its share of scandals across the globe, but new shocking evidence today shines the spotlight on abuse in the Netherlands that has left many young boys permanently disfigured.
According to journalist Joep Dohmen, there are at least 10 cases of forced castration of minors who told police they had been abused by Catholic clergy.
One case is that of 20-year-old Henk Heithuis, who was living in a Catholic-run home. He told police that two clergymen had sexually abused him. After the police were notified, the two men were arrested, but Heithuis was sent away to a psychiatric hospital run by the Catholic Church.
There, he was allegedly castrated against his will and without parental notification. While papers filed in court state that Heithuis wanted the procedure done, there is no paper with his signature authorizing the castration.
"We once asked Henk to drop his pants when the women were gone," family friend Cornelius Rogge told the British Telegraph. "He did that. He was totally maimed. It was a huge shock."
After seeing what had happened, Rogge told an official within the Catholic Church, who immediately launched an investigation, but later dismissed Rogge's words.
Since then, another nine cases similar to Heithuis' have been discovered. "These nine cases are anonymous and can no longer be traced," investigator Dohmen told the Telegraph. "There will be many more, but the question is whether those boys, now old men, will want to tell their story."
Many young men were castrated in the 1950's with the belief that surgical castration could cure homosexuality. The Telegraph reports that these 10 young men, including Heithuis, were part of a group altered "to get rid of homosexuality."
Dohmen has also stated that there is a pattern of young men being castrated after reporting sexual abuse at the hands of clergymen.
The stories of these young men have horrified Dutch officials who are calling for a new investigation into the matter. Wim Deetman had been in charge of investigating the Dutch Catholic Church and said he received over 1800 alleged reports of sexual abuse dating back to 1945. Yet there is controversy surrounding Deetman's investigation.
According to reports, he failed to notify officials that a former Prime Minister, Victor Marijnen, was involved in the abuse scandal. Marijnen, who was in power in the 1950's, was the head of the home where Heithuis was abused and also awarded several pardons to those accused of abuse.
Now Dutch officials are launching a new investigation into the abuse claims.
"I am shocked that boys were being castrated in the 1950's. 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," said MP Khadija Arib.