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Belgian bishops will require abusive priests to pay victims

Catholic World News - January 12, 2012

Belgian Catholic Church leaders have announced that priests who are guilty of abusing children will be required to pay damages to their victims.

While encouraging victims to seek judgments from civil courts, the Belgian bishops have also said that if the statute of limitations prevents the courts from taking up the cases, the Church will still require guilty clerics to pay damages.

“If the culprit is still alive, he will certainly have to day,” said Bishop Guy Harpigny of Tournai. If priests are unable to pay the damages, the Church will make up the payments.

[An AP story on the Belgian Church policy promotes the charge that the Vatican thwarted efforts by priests in Belgium and other countries to laicize priests who were guilty of abuse. That charge is misguided. While the Vatican required that accused priests be accorded due process, the bishops always had the authority to remove accused priests from ministry.]

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