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Belgian bishop abused nephew for eight years, says priest

Catholic World News - July 13, 2010

Bishop Roger Vangheluwe, who resigned in April after he admitted sexually abusing a minor, molested the boy-- his nephew-- over a period of eight years, according to Father Rik Devillé, a priest who said he told Cardinal Godfried Danneels about the abuse in 1996. “Stop making unfounded public accusations against the Church and its functionaries if you don’t have proof,” the cardinal responded in a letter.

The cardinal’s attorney said that the cardinal does not recall being informed about Bishop Vangheluwe’s abuse at the time.

The nephew-- who told The New York Times that “I’m scared, and the Church has a lot of power”-- was pressured by his family over the years to remain silent, according to Peter Adriaenssens, the well-respect psychiatrist and abuse expert who until recently led the Belgian bishops’ efforts to investigate abuse.

According to Dr. Adriaenssens, the nephew decided to speak about his abuse after his 12-year-old niece received a holy card from the bishop on the occasion of her confirmation. “It was a little card with a nice picture on the front and inside text from him on the importance of a healthy childhood,” Dr. Adriaenssens said. “This made him enraged.”

In April, a friend of the nephew e-mailed all of Belgium’s bishops and said he would publicize the abuse. On April 20, the nephew called the abuse hotline set up by the bishops’ conference.

Dr. Adriaenssens then said he called Bishop Vangheluwe to confront him. After Dr. Adriaenssens said, “This is your first moment to be a real priest,” the bishop admitted the abuse and offered his resignation.

Some 500 Belgians-- mostly men-- have come forward in the last two months and alleged they were abused by priests as minors.

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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: JR - Jul. 13, 2010 11:24 PM ET USA

    Any reason why Bishop Vangheluwe should not be laicized? And the same for any other bishops who are guilty of such grievous and immoral misconduct. Why should bishops be protected from the sanctions imposed upon other priests in similar situations?

  • Posted by: tmsharel5764 - Jul. 13, 2010 5:18 PM ET USA

    Dr. Adriaenssens then said he called Bishop Vangheluwe to confront him. After Dr. Adriaenssens said, “This is your first moment to be a real priest,” the bishop admitted the abuse and offered his resignation. Good! Dr. Adrianensses knew just what to say to bring about the admission. Too bad the boys' family were such cowards over the years. There hasn't been a silence over moral issues for nothing. It was for something--coverup.

  • Posted by: Saved by Grace - Jul. 13, 2010 9:59 AM ET USA

    Tears, tears and more tears. Will we ever be able to end the grieving over these horrible deeds? When will someone make a connection between the disorder of homosexuality and a tendency to abuse? Why are we told that these thousands of cases worldwide prove nothing? If consecrated men can perpetrate these kinds of things, what of secular homosexual men with no regard for anything holy. God help us and keep us from destroying ourselves!

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