- Views & Opinions
At least 10 teenage boys or young men under the age of 21 were surgically castrated by the Dutch Roman Catholic Church in the 1950s “to get rid of homosexuality,” a Dutch journalist has learned.
Among the victims was a young man named Henk Heithuis, who was castrated at age 18 after reporting sexual abuse by priests when living in Catholic institutions, where he had lived since infancy. He died in a car crash in 1956, two years after being forced to undergo genital mutilation by Church officials
At least nine other teenage boys or young men under the age of 21 were also surgically castrated by the Dutch Roman Catholic Church in the 1950s “to get rid of homosexuality,” a Dutch journalist has learned.
Among the victims was a young man named Henk Heithuis, who was castrated after reporting sexual abuse by priests while he was a minor living in Catholic institutions.
Papers filed in court claimed Heithuis was castrated “at his own request,” despite no submission of written consent. Sources told the journalist that the surgical removal of testicles was regarded as a treatment for homosexuality and also as a punishment for those who accused clergy of sexual abuse.
Reports of the castrations were not included in an official investigation released last December by Wim Deetman, a former Dutch minister. The commission did identify 1,800 reports of sexual abuse by clergy or volunteers within Dutch Catholic dioceses that have occurred since 1945.
The commission, however, dismissed reports of the castrations.
But an investigative journalist found evidence detailing not only that the castrations occurred but that government inspectors were aware of them. There is also evidence that Catholic officials did not believe parents needed to be involved in the decision to castrate their sons.
The Deetman Commission was founded by the Catholic Church in 2010 following widespread reports of sexual abuse in the church. In its report, the commission found the number of victims who grew up in church institutions was between 10,000 and 20,000.