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.
A large majority of the Dutch public believes Roman Catholic Church authorities covered up sexual abuse, a poll found on Sunday, revealing the extent of the damage to the Church’s reputation in the Netherlands.
Almost 2,000 people have declared themselves this year victims of sexual and physical abuse while they were minors in the care of the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands, an independent commission said on Thursday.
Pope Benedict says in a new book, Light of the World, that condoms may be used in certain limited cases to prevent the spread of AIDS. He also addressed several issues facing the Church in the book, which is based on a long interview with German Catholic journalist Peter Seewald.
The Vatican has told Roman Catholic bishops around the world that they will have to take more responsibility to prevent sexual abuse of children by priests. It also said in a statement issued after a day-long meeting of cardinals on Friday that it was preparing new guidelines for bishops on how to deal with the sexual abuse, including cooperation with local authorities.
Roman Catholic cardinals from around the world met in a rare gathering at the Vatican on Friday to discuss religious freedom, sexual abuse of children by priests and accepting Anglican converts. The debate on religious freedom unfolded against the backdrop of a fresh Vatican conflict with China’s communist government over the ordination of a bishop without papal permission.
The spokesman for Belgium’s Roman Catholic leader quit on Tuesday, citing a loss of trust in the archbishop who has caused a storm with harsh comments on AIDS and caring words for some paedophile priests.
Three Roman Catholic bishops in Belgium, reacting to damaging sexual abuse scandals in their ranks, have taken the rare step of urging their Church to consider easing its ban on married men in the priesthood.