Church should pay Dutch abuse victims: commission

Reuters

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Catholic Church should pay compensation of 5,000-100,000 euros each to victims who were sexually abused while in its care in the Netherlands, a report commissioned by Dutch bishops said on Monday.

The Dutch bishops' conference had sought the recommendation of an independent commission after cases surfaced involving pedophile priests in the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, Germany, Australia, Canada and the United States.

Victims should be paid on a sliding scale starting at 5,000 euros, with 25,000 for victims of rape and the maximum of 100,000 euros ($142,300) for "exceptional cases of sexual abuse," the commission concluded.

Its report said financial compensation alone was not enough, and victims should receive apologies, assistance and recognition for their suffering.

A separate commission had reported in December that 1,975 people had come forward to declare that they were victims of sexual and physical abuse while they were minors in the care of the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands.

That investigation into the abuses, some of which date as far back as 1945, put the Netherlands only just behind Ireland in terms of numbers, in a scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church in Europe and the United States.

Pope Benedict has been forced to apologize to victims of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests.

Earlier this year, the Catholic Church in Germany put forward a plan to compensate victims of sexual abuse by its priests, offering payments of up to 5,000 euros to those whose cases are too old to bring to court, and said that higher compensation would be awarded in "particularly serious cases."

In 2007, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed to pay $660 million to 500 victims of sexual abuse dating as far back as the 1940s, the largest compensation deal of its kind.

Pope Benedict met victims of abuse by priests during his April 2008 visit to the United States. The U.S. church has paid $2 billion in settlements to victims since 1992.

(Reporting by Sara Webb and Aaron Gray-Block; Editing by Peter Graff)