Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of fiction and nonfiction.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Castration: Brought to Us From the Same Folks Telling Women Not to Use Contraception
The idea that the American Roman Catholic bishops of ALL PEOPLE -- given the actual history of the church on human rights and religious freedom -- are lecturing President Obama and the American people on religious liberty is supremely ironic. The bishops must be counting on Americans' amnesia and/or ignorance of history.
But what of the actual issue of religious liberty?
The New York Times (March 3, 20120 "Dolan Urges Catholics to Become More Active in Politics") reported that Dolan was declaring that the bishops' ideological war on President Obama over providing health care to women was really all about "religious liberty."
As the Times noted:
"Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan told Roman Catholics... that in an era when the church was fighting the government on several fronts, they needed to make their voices heard more clearly in the political sphere. Speaking at a diocesan convocation Cardinal Dolan, who is the archbishop of New York and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said, 'We are called to be very active, very informed and very involved in politics.'... Cardinal Dolan told the crowd that the government sought to make the church do something 'we find unconscionable.... It is a freedom of religion battle,' he said. 'It is not about contraception. It is not about women's health.' He added: 'We're talking about an unwarranted, unprecedented, radical intrusion into a church's ability to teach, serve and sanctify on its own.' The cardinal mocked a secular culture that 'seems to discover new rights every day.'... Obama officials have pointed to recent polls showing that most Catholics favor the new contraceptive rule... Cardinal Dolan said, 'If you want an authoritative voice, go to the bishops. They're the ones that speak for the truths of the faith.'"
Here's another dispatch re the "moral authority" of the bishops lecturing our president about "religious freedom" and their "right" to deprive women of contraceptives.
BRUSSELS -- A young man in the care of the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands was surgically castrated decades ago after complaining about sexual abuse, according to new evidence that only adds to the scandal engulfing the church there.By STEPHEN CASTLE, The New York Times /
The case, which dates from the 1950s, has increased pressure for a government-led inquiry into sexual abuse in the Dutch church, amid suspicions that as many as 10 young men may have suffered the same fate.
"This case is especially painful because it concerns a victim who was victimized for a second time," said Peter Nissen, a professor of the history of religion at Radboud University in the Netherlands. "He had the courage to go to the police and was castrated."
It is unclear, however, whether the reported castration was performed as a punishment for whistle-blowing or what was seen as a treatment for homosexuality.
In 2010, about 2,000 people complained of abuse by priests, church institutions or religious orders in the Netherlands after the Roman Catholic Church commissioned an inquiry. It finally concluded that the number of actual victims over several decades could be 10 times higher.
That committee, led by Wim Deetman, a former education minister, was presented with evidence of the castration case when it was contacted by a friend of the young man, who was castrated in 1956, two years before his death in a road accident.
Since the case emerged, the Deetman Commission has issued a detailed justification of its actions, contending that it was unable to reach any conclusions on the case from the evidence at its disposal.
The victim, Henk Heithuis, lived in Catholic institutions from infancy after being taken into care. When he complained about sexual abuse to the police, Mr. Heithuis, 20 at the time, was transferred to a Catholic psychiatric hospital before being admitted to the St. Joseph Hospital in Veghel, where he was castrated.
Cornelius Rogge, a sculptor whose family became friends with Mr. Heithuis, informed the Deetman Commission about the case, contacting an investigative journalist and author, Joep Dohmen, when there was no clear sign of a follow-up.
On Dutch television, Mr. Rogge described how he knew that the castration had taken place and said he believed that there were other victims.
"We once asked Henk to drop his pants when the women were not present," Mr. Rogge said. "He did that. He was totally maimed. That was a huge shock for us, of course."
Mr. Heithuis had also described his ordeal verbally, Mr. Rogge said.
"He was strapped to a bed," Mr. Rogge said, describing Mr. Heithuis's statement. "In one stroke, his scrotum was cut out. Then he was taken to an infirmary to rest and recover. Then the other boys received the same treatment. He could hear them screaming."
Mr. Dohmen, the investigative journalist who broke the news in the daily NRC Handelsblad, said that correspondence from the 1950s and Mr. Heithuis's testimony to Mr. Rogge suggested that there could have been an additional nine cases. Mr. Dohmen said he uncovered another case. A gay man, who had not been abused, was also castrated, he said. That man has asked that his identity not be made public.
Mr. Dohmen said he did not know whether Mr. Heithuis was castrated as a punishment for whistle-blowing and could not provide further evidence of the other possible victims.
In an e-mailed comment, Mr. Rogge said he believed that the castration was a punishment.
Mr. Dohmen said that the man accused of abusing Mr. Heithuis was investigated but not prosecuted. He was transferred to Nova Scotia, where he started a home for boys.