Bishop Ad van Luyn of Rotterdam in the Netherlands has reported a Dutch priest to the police for alleged sexual abuse in Sri Lanka. Pending an investigation, the priest has been suspended with immediate effect by the Rotterdam diocese, which contacted the police following questions raised by Radio Netherlands Worldwide and daily newspaper NRC Handelsblad.
The priest, who until today was pastor in the towns of Leidschendam and Voorburg on the outskirts of The Hague, is a regular visitor to Sri Lanka where, according to the diocese he is "active in the field of charity".
A spokesman for the diocese said it was informed in July 2009 about "possible sexual abuse and possible financial misappropriations by this priest while in Sri Lanka". In an email to RNW, the spokesman stated that at that time the diocese ordered "a preliminary investigation," but that "so far its results proved unable to corroborate the accusations".
Following questions by RNW and NRC Handelsblad, Bishop Van Luyn has taken additional action. The priest is the fifth Roman Catholic clergyman who has been suspended because of an investigation into alleged sexual abuse. The Dutch embassy in Sri Lanka says it knows nothing about the case.
Information in the hands of RNW and NRC Handelsblad shows that the same priest was known to have had sexual relations with boys in the 1990s. At the time he was serving as a pastor in the former St Anthony parish in the city of Dordrecht. In 1995, he was reprimanded by Bishop Ad van Luyn because of his "lifestyle".
However, despite this he was then promoted to the post of Deacon of The Hague, where he remained for a couple of years. The diocese spokesman said that what happened in Dordrecht was "a possible failure to comply with the pledge of celibacy", and not sexual abuse. (Radio Netherlands)