AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A large majority of the Dutch public believes Roman Catholic Church authorities covered up sexual abuse, a poll found Sunday, revealing the extent of the damage to the Church’s reputation in the Netherlands.
An independent commission said Thursday 1,975 people have declared themselves victims of sexual and physical abuse while under the care of the Church since 1945, ranking the Netherlands second worst behind Ireland in a scandal that has rocked the Church in Europe and the United States.
The Maurice de Hond poll showed 82 percent of respondents believe most Church authorities knew about the problems, while 81 percent believe the pope also knew. Some 78 percent said they were “extremely disappointed” by the abuses.
De Hond said the position of Pope Benedict and the Catholic Church authorities had been “strongly affected” by the scandal.
The survey also found that 69 percent think the Church should no longer make comments about how people should behave, but that percentage falls to 55 percent among Catholics.
Victims of abuse in the Netherlands want a full parliamentary inquiry into the scandal and the poll showed 56 percent of the Dutch were in favor of such an investigation.
Although the scandal has forced Pope Benedict to apologize to victims of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests, the survey found that 88 percent, or 75 percent among Catholics, believe the pope needs to more clearly offer his apologies.
Reporting by Aaron Gray-Block