Belgian Cardinal Didn't Silence Abuse Case

Urges Respect for Victim

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BRUSSELS, Belgium, AUG. 30, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The former archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels is stating that he did not cover up the sexual abuse of a minor by the former bishop of Bruges.



Bishop Roger Joseph Vangheluwe of Bruges resigned in April after admitting to sexually abusing a minor.

On Saturday, the newspapers "De Standaard" and "Het Nieuwsblad" published articles accusing Cardinal Godfried Danneels, retired archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels and former primate of Belgium, of meeting with the abuse victim's family and telling them to keep the matter secret.

The cardinal's spokesman, Toon Osaer, issued the statement asserting that the prelate never tried to silence the case.

On the contrary, the cardinal agreed to facilitate a meeting last April between the victim, his family, and Bishop Vangheluwe.

The statement explained: "The cardinal agreed to a request of the family to be mediator in the family circle immediately after the abuse. In this confidential context of a family meeting, different solutions were examined with a view to a resolution."
 
It added, "At no time was pressure exerted on the family or the victim to keep the event secret or to prevent their appealing to justice or to the Adriaenssens Commission." The commission was established by the Catholic Church to investigate allegations of sexual abuse committed by clerics.
 
In the statement, Cardinal Danneels repeated that "he condemns the abuse committed by the former bishop and that he deplores it profoundly."
 
"He also expresses his disappointment over the fact that a confidential conversation was recorded and published, without advising the parties present," it added.
 
The spokesman noted: "The fact that he did not make the talks of this meeting public in a preceding press conference is due to the fact that he did not want to break the confidential character of the meeting.

"It was also due to the respect owed to the victim, who had not been made known publicly and who had not yet revealed what he had experienced."