Inquiry: Thousands of Dutch Catholic children abused

A churchgoer holds a cross and rosary beads as the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, speaks in Saint Patricks Cathedral on March 20, 2010 in Armagh, Northern Ireland. Brady voiced hope that the pope's letter addressing sex abuse by priests could lead to "a great season of rebirth."

Officials in the Netherlands for decades failed to protect thousands of children who suffered sexual abuse in Dutch Catholic institutions, an independent inquiry has found.

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The findings, released Friday, said that since 1945 Catholic officials failed to tackle the widespread abuse at schools, seminaries and orphanages, the BBC reported.

Based on a survey of more than 34,000 people, the report, by an independent commission, found that one in five children suffered some form of abuse in Catholic institutions.

The document accused church officials of failing to adequately address the abuse, or help the victims.

The commission, set up last year under the leadership of former government minister Wim Deetman, said it received some 1,800 complaints of abuse at Catholic institutions, the Associated Press reported.

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It is understood that allegations of abuse at a school in the country's east led to the investigation.

Catholicism is the largest religion in the Netherlands, at 29 percent of the population, and last month, the Catholic church in the country agreed to launch a compensation system for victims of abuse by priests and other church workers, AP reported.

Payments begin at 5,000 euros ($6,500) and rise to a maximum of 100,000 euros ($130,000) depending on the nature of the abuse.