Belgian Church moves on abuse but victims still unhappy
Belgium’s Catholic Church responded to an abuse scandal with plans to create a reconciliation centre and set new rules for priests, but victim groups called the moves insufficient. “The past months have been very difficult for the Church and for us. We are fully committed to tackling this problem in a new way,” Archbishop André-Joseph Leonard told a news conference. “It causes us pain. Coming out of such a crisis is not easy.”
(Photo: Archbishop Leonard at news conference, 13 Sept 2010/Yves Herman)
The scandal erupted in April when the Bishop of Bruges resigned after admitting he had sexually abused his nephew. A commission monitoring abuse last week released a report saying clerical abuse was widespread in Belgium. Critics accuse the Church of not acting against errant priests and turning a blind eye to abuse. The commission said it found no evidence that the Church had systematically covered up crimes, although had found instances where nothing was done.
The centre for recognition, healing and reconciliation for victims will possibly be set up by the end of the year.
Walter Van Steenbrugge, a lawyer representing about 30 victims, told Belgian television the Church should be ready to pay compensation and leave cases to the justice authorities.