A report into child sexual abuse in Dutch Roman Catholic institutions was published today. It finds that between ten and twenty thousand children have been abused since 1945 including several thousand instances of rape.
The report, compiled by an independent commission, found that the majority of the abuse took place between 1945 and 1981. After that time the Catholic church was less involved in institutional care of children.
The report identified 800 clergy and church workers involved in abuse during this period. Approximately 100 are still thought to be alive.
Archbishop of Utrecht Wim Eijk apologized to victims on behalf of the entire Dutch Catholic Church and said the report "fills us with shame and sorrow".
The number of Catholics in the Netherlands has been dropping steadily over the last four decades. In 1970 around 40 percent of the population was Catholic. The number is currently around 29 percent. However, the Catholic church is the largest single denomination in the country.