Thousands of children suffered sexual abuse in Dutch Catholic institutions and church officials knew about it but failed to adequately address the problem or help the victims, according to a long-awaited report.
Archbishop of Utrecht Wim Eijk apologised to victims on behalf of the entire Dutch Catholic organisation and said the report "fills us with shame and sorrow".
The report said Catholic officials failed to tackle the widespread abuse, which ranged from "unwanted sexual advances" to serious sex abuse, in an attempt to prevent scandals.
The investigation followed allegations of repeated incidents of abuse at one cloister that quickly spread to claims from Catholic institutions across the country, echoing similar church-related scandals around the world.
The suspected number of abuse victims who spent some of their youth in church institutions is likely to be between 10,000 and 20,000, according to a summary of the report investigating allegations of abuse dating back to 1945.
The commission received some 1,800 complaints of abuse at Catholic schools, seminaries and orphanages, and said that the institutions suffered from "a failure of oversight". It then conducted the broader survey of the general population for a more comprehensive analysis of the scale and nature of sexual abuse of minors - both in the church and elsewhere.
Based on a survey among more than 34,000 people, the commission estimated that one in 10 Dutch children suffered some form of abuse broadly in society.
The number doubled to 20% of children who spent part of their youth in an institution like an orphanage or boarding school - whether Catholic or not.
The commission was set up last year under the leadership of former government minister Wim Deetman, who said there could be no doubt church leaders knew of the problem.
"The idea that people did not know there was a risk ... is untenable," he said.