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.
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.
Following the crisis of sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests in Belgium is like watching a rudderless ship in a storm. The Church hierarchy seems overwhelmed by the scandal that has engulfed it. The state seems unable to intervene after its spectacular raid on Church offices last June backfired on it. Left hanging are at least 475 victims who have no idea what to expect next.
The former head of Belgium’s Roman Catholic Church, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, has admitted he made mistakes in dealing with a case of sexual abuse and should have demanded the resignation of the bishop involved.
(Photo: Cardinal Danneels arrives at federal police headquarters in Brussels July 6, 2010 for questions about allegations of sexual abuse by priests/Stringer)