Belgium: Church to Compensate Victims of Sexual Abuse

Bishops and Religious Superiors Committed to Helping Victims Heal

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BRUSSELS, JUNE 6, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The bishops and religious superiors of Belgium are "determined" to compensate the victims of sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy, and to help the victims heal.

They expressed this in a communiqué published last week in response to a report of a special parliamentary commission that called for compensation for the victims. In 2010, a report revealed some 500 cases of sexual abuse by clergy in Belgium going back to the 1950s.

The bishops and religious superiors stated that they are "profoundly affected" and they denounced the "grave faults" committed by members of the clergy and of religious communities.

"The acts are more painful given the fact that their authors are members of the Church invested with moral authority who should have been exemplary, out of respect for the trust placed in them," they stated.

"These acts have caused sufferings and traumas to victims, often over long years," stress the signatories, who lament what happened "very sincerely" and appreciate "the courage of the victims who have attested to the painful acts."

Conscious of their "moral responsibility and of what society expects" from them, the bishops and religious committed themselves to "assure acknowledgment of the victims and to adopt measure to repair their suffering."

Finally, the bishops and religious superiors committed themselves to use all the measures at their disposal "to avoid these grave acts, which our whole society deplores with reason, from being repeated again in the future."