Who is Servant of God Franciscus Hubertus Schraven and why is he important to those who have been sexually abused?
Recently, a Dutch prelate has suggested that a missionary bishop martyred in 1937 could be considered the patron saint of sex abuse victims. Upon closing the diocesan phase of the beatification of the Servant of God Franciscus Hubertus Schraven (1873-1937), Bishop Frans Wiertz of Roermond suggested “that he be considered as the patron saint of victims of sexual abuse,” according to the diocesan website.
Franciscus Hubertus Schraven was born in the Netherlands in 1873. At the age of 21, he joined the Congregation of the Mission, in which he was ordained a deacon (1898) and a priest (1899). In that same year, he departed for China, and in 1920 was appointed as Vicar Apostolic of Southwestern Chi-Li in China. He was also consecrated bishop with the titular see of Amyclae. He served as Bishop until 1937, when he died at the hands of Japanese troops in the Second Sino-Japanese War.
On October 9, 1937, the Japanese conquered the city of Zhengding and the soldiers plundered the city, killing and raping at will. The Japanese authorities demanded that Bishop Schraven hand over girls to fill the soldiers’ need for “comfort”, in other words, to serve as sex slaves. The bishop refused and sheltered 5000 people, including 200 Chinese girls in his residence. When Japanese troops came to ask for the girls, Schraven said: “You can kill me if you want but you will never get what you ask for.” The soldiers returned hours later, handcuffed Bishop Schraven and eight other priests, doused them in gasoline and burned them alive.