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Belgian bishop resigns because of sexual abuse

Catholic World News - April 23, 2010

Bishop Roger Vangheluwe of Brugges has resigned because of sexual abuse in which he was personally involved. The 73-year-old prelate was appointed Bishop of Brugges-- one of the nation’s eight dioceses-- in 1984.

"When I was still just a priest, and for a certain period at the beginning of my episcopate, I sexually abused a minor from my immediate environment," Bishop Vangheluwe confessed in a public statement announcing his resignation. "Over the course of these decades I have repeatedly recognised my guilt towards him and his family, and I have asked forgiveness; but this did not pacify him, as it did not pacify me. The media storm of recent weeks has increased the trauma, and the situation is no longer tenable." The bishop expressed his "most sincere apologies to the victim, to his family, to all the Catholic community and to society in general."

Belgium's leading Catholic prelate, Archbishop Andre-Mutien Leonard of Brussels, said that Pope Benedict XVI had promptly accepted Bishop Vangheluwe's resignation upon learning of the abuse. While expressing the hope that the bishop could count on God's mercy for his misdeeds, Archbishop Leonard said that "it is vital that, out of respect for the victim and his family, and out of respect for the truth, he should resign from office."

"The Church thus underlines the importance of not procrastinating in such cases," the archbishop continued. The prompt action, he said, shows that "the Catholic Church in Belgium rigorously wishes to apply in these matters, turning a new page with respect to the not-so-distant period in which the Church, and others, preferred the solution of silence or concealment."

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Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: filioque - Apr. 24, 2010 12:35 AM ET USA

    I suspect we are not yet finished with North America. As bad as it was in 2002, it was by no means a thorough calling to account.

  • Posted by: Steve214 - Apr. 23, 2010 5:41 PM ET USA

    We may as well get used to this. We had North American in 2002. Now we have Europe. We still have South America, Africa, and Asia yet to go.

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