Historical abuse in Dutch Catholic institutions: An ex ante evaluation of institutional and non-institutional response procedures

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With the disclosure of widespread sexual abuse within the Dutch Roman Catholic Church, victim-survivors demanded justice from Dutch Church authorities and the Dutch State. As conventional approaches, such as criminal and civil law, were deemed to be inept in achieving recognition and repair, new procedures had to be established. The Church initiated several complaint, compensation and mediation procedures. Besides these ‘institutional’ procedures (initiated by the ‘wrong-doer’ itself), a victim-led mediation procedure was developed. This article provides an ex ante evaluation of these varied response procedures in terms of the promise they made to achieve recognition and repair. Their design was assessed through the theoretical lenses of procedural and restorative justice. While the procedural lens shows that there is too little space for the voice of victim-survivors, the restorative lens shows that all responses were too individualistic in design, failing to integrate systemic aspects of the harm done at the institutional, societal and familial levels. These aspects are crucial to addressing the recognition claims at stake.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe International Journal of Restorative Justice
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • historical institutional abuse
  • Dutch Roman Catholic Church
  • repair
  • procedural justice
  • restorative justice

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