Dutch Catholic church accused of widespread cover-up

Dozens of high-ranking members of the Dutch Catholic Church knew that children were being sexually abused by priests, but actively covered it up.

They have been accused of taking part in or covering up abuse that took place between 1945 and 2010.

The new revelation is just the latest of several that have uncovered decades of sexual abuse by Catholic pedophile priests around the world.

Al Jazeera reports: More than half of Dutch bishops, cardinals and auxiliary bishops knew about the abuse allegations, an investigation by Dutch newspaper NRC showed.

Four of them were accused of having sexually abused children.

According to the report, high-ranking clergy moved priests who had been accused of abuse to other parishes where they could start anew.

Sometimes, clergy members were moved more than once to cover up their abuse.

They also kept quiet about allegations and destroyed the files of accused members of the clergy.

According to organisations dealing with victims of abuse, these practices led to many more victims over the years.

The Netherlands is not the only country where abuse scandals have rocked the Catholic Church.

In recent years, institutionalised cover-ups of child abuse have popped up in the United States, Australia, Ireland and Germany.

Last month, the US state of Pennsylvania released a report detailing the abuse of more than 1,000 children over a period of decades.

More than 300 clergy members were implicated in the report.

In May, Chile’s 34 bishops were summoned to Rome by the pope after Vatican investigators produced a 2,300-page report alleging that senior Church officials in Chile had failed to act on abuse claims and in some cases hid them.

Pope Francis has accepted the resignations of five of those bishops.

In Australia, a former archbishop was recently convicted of failing to disclose abuse by a priest to the police after being told about it by two of the survivors in the 1970s.

He was spared jail time when he was ordered to serve his one-year sentence at home due to a range of health issues.