By Francois Lenoir
It was a cold, wet morning when I passed through the doors of the Church of Saint John the Baptist at the Beguinage, a grand 17th century building in the center of Brussels.
Belgium’s politicians and prelates are looking to Pope Benedict to help end a clerical sexual abuse crisis that is crippling the local Catholic Church and frustrating judicial authorities unable to resolve it.
A Belgian Roman Catholic bishop who resigned in disgrace after admitting to sexually abusing his nephew has left the country for “spiritual and psychological treatment” abroad, a Vatican ambassador has said. Former Bruges Bishop Roger Vangheluwe, 74, went into hiding after shocking the Belgian Church with his public confession in April 2010. He first stayed at a Belgian monastery but later left it, and his exact whereabouts were not made public.
(Photo: Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels at a parliamentary committee hearing on child sexual abuse in the Belgian Catholic Church, in Brussels December 21, 2010./Francois Lenoir)
Belgium’s former top Roman Catholic bishop told a parliamentary inquiry on Tuesday into the sexual abuse of children by clerics that he was not responsible for other Belgian bishops.
(Photo: Muslims pray in the street during Friday prayers near an overcrowded mosque in the Rue des Poissoniers in Paris on December 17, 2010/Charles Platiau)
Far-right political parties in Europe are stepping up their anti-Muslim rhetoric and forging ties across borders, even going so far as to visit Israel to hail the Jewish state as a bulwark against militant Islam.
It has not been a good few weeks for Brussels Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard, the embattled leader of Belgium’s Roman Catholics.