Catholic World News

Vatican spokesman: Belgian bishop’s laicization would be ‘more symbolic than practical’

September 17, 2010

The laicization of a Belgian bishop who admitted abusing a minor-- his nephew-- would be “more symbolic than practical,” said Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Holy See Press Office, “because the exercise of his ministry is already excluded at the present time.”

“The Pope and his collaborators” share Belgian society’s concerns about Bishop Roger Vangheluwe’s misdeeds, said Father Lombardi, and Pope Benedict will “certainly need time to be informed and to reflect” before deciding whether to take any additional action.

Bishop Guy Harpigny of Tournai, a fellow Belgian bishop, has called upon the Vatican to take additional action against Bishop Vangheluwe.

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  • Posted by: rpp - Sep. 20, 2010 3:23 PM ET USA

    Sometimes, a "symbolic" gesture is absolutely critical. This is one of those times.

  • Posted by: Jim.K - Sep. 18, 2010 12:58 PM ET USA

    "...misdeeds..." How insulting! How about "sins and crimes!" And just where is the offender enjoing his "retirement?" And is he receiving a pension from the diocese "for all the good things he did during his tenure?" He ought to be hunted down like the criminal he is and locked up in prison!

  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Sep. 17, 2010 1:30 PM ET USA

    It would be much more than symbolic as far as Bishop Vangheluwe is concerned. Reducing him to the lay state would be a good signal that the Vatican is taking every action which is can to condemn sexual abuse by the clergy. Frankly, I don't know why this is still regarded an an extraordinary step, as if the right to be a priest was acquired like it was a college professor's tenure.

  • Posted by: stpetric - Sep. 17, 2010 9:36 AM ET USA

    "Laicizing" Bishop Vangheluwe may indeed be “more symbolic than practical”. But don't the Vatican authorities grasp that *not* laicizing him is *also* symbolic? The difference is that the first one is the right kind of symbol, and the second is wrong.

  • Posted by: polish.pinecone4371 - Sep. 17, 2010 9:13 AM ET USA

    And Father Lombardi's point is...? Yes, it would be more symbolic than practical, but so what? Isn't symbolism considered important in the Catholic Church? Isn't that why we have Cross and the Sacraments and vestments and all those other symbols all over the place? If the Catholic Church isn't about symbolism, then I have no idea what I've been doing in this Church for the last 49 years. The symbolism here would clarify this guy's situation. And it would go some ways to helping victims.