According to a report released by an independent Commission of Inquiry Friday, thousands of minors suffered sexual abuse in the Dutch Roman Catholic Church for over 60 years.
The report spans from the period between 1945 to 2010, and says "the scale" of the abuse "is relatively small in percentage terms, but is a serious problem in absolute numbers."
All of the victims were under the care of church officials such as priests, pastoral workers, and lay persons.
Approximately 800 “possible perpetrators” have been identified, according to the report.
"Several tens of thousands of minors have experienced mild, serious and very serious forms of inappropriate sexual behavior. Victims have often suffered for decades from the effects of abuse and have received acknowledgment of the fact," the report’s panel said. "This has caused problems for them, their immediate family and their friends, who require attention and sometimes professional counseling."
After “a growing number of reports appeared,” the church created the inquiry about sexual abuse in its bureaucracy, the commission said.
"The Commission of Inquiry based its findings on empirical data from the reports of sexual abuse it received between March and December 2010, as well as historical records from ecclesiastical and other archives," the commission reported.
"At least 105 of those 800 persons are known to be living. It is not known how many of these individuals are still in their jobs," the report states.
The names of the 800 perpetrators can be traced to people "who work or worked in dioceses, orders and congregations," according to the commission’s report.
The church was not oblivious to the reports of sexually abused minors, but often chose to turn a blind eye to them.
"Bishops and other church authorities were not ignorant of the problem of sexual abuse. Moreover, in the view of the Commission of Inquiry, in many cases they failed to take adequate action and paid too little attention to victims," the report said.
As the commission searched through church archives, it found "cases of sexual abuse by perpetrators who had themselves been victims of similar abuse in their youth."
The report adds that abused victims "gradually started receiving attention since the 1990s." The commission emphasized the need for "financial compensation" as "an essential element" for the victims, calling it the church’s "moral duty" to take sexual abuse complaints seriously.
Roman Catholics are the largest religious group in the Netherlands, making up 30 percent of its population.
"In the last few years, reports of sexual abuse have regularly led to meetings between the victim and the perpetrator," the report said. "In most cases, the perpetrator or the responsible administrator has expressed regret. Apologies and compensation generally date from after 2000."