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Thursday 24 July  

Pope will not discipline Belgian bishop for now

Published on 14 September 2010 - 11:55am
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A spokesperson for the Vatican says Pope Benedict XVI will not, for the time being, impose disciplinary measures on Belgian Roman Catholic cleric Roger Vangheluwe, who resigned as Bishop of Bruges in April after admitting to sexually abusing his underage nephew for years.

The spokesperson, who made his statement to Belgian Dutch-language public broadcaster VRT, said the pope had been deeply saddened by the Vangheluwe case. The pontiff has approved a proposal by the Belgian bishops to set up a support centre for the victims of clerical abuse.

Mr Vangheluwe is under increasing pressure from Belgian Catholics to resign from the priesthood. The elderly former bishop initially withdrew to a monastery near Bruges. Last week, he decided to leave the monastey and his current whereabouts are unknown.

 

 

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

Discussion

Jeannie Guzman 15 September 2010 - 2:38am / USA

Roger Vangheluwe has "A Golden Parachute," consisting of a big, fat bishop's pension and a home for life in a monastery or convent somewhere on planet earth. Don't feel sorry for him, unless of course you are willing to welcome him into your home and trust him, to be alone, with your male offspring. Don't forget there's always the possibility that the Pope might make the illustrious Cardinal Law retire, so he can give the Church of Santa Maria Majore to Vanghelluwe for all of his "hard work!" Like Cardinal Law, Vangheluwe will survive, and in the aftermath, the only ones hurt will be the victim or victims.

Jeannie Guzman 15 September 2010 - 2:38am / USA

Roger Vangheluwe has "A Golden Parachute," consisting of a big, fat bishop's pension and a home for life in a monastery or convent somewhere on planet earth. Don't feel sorry for him, unless of course you are willing to welcome him into your home and trust him, to be alone, with your male offspring. Don't forget there's always the possibility that the Pope might make the illustrious Cardinal Law retire, so he can give the Church of Santa Maria Majore to Vanghelluwe for all of his "hard work!" Like Cardinal Law, Vangheluwe will survive, and in the aftermath, the only ones hurt will be the victim or victims.

SarahTX2 14 September 2010 - 5:15pm / United States

Does the Pope really have anything to do with this? Are Belgians completely incapable of protecting their own children? If you can't put this freak in jail, send people to surround him and watch his every move. Give a dam about your children. Where are the men in your country? This has nothing to do with religion. Stop being coy. Stand up and take these child molesters behind the wood shed. If you cannot or will not protect your children, then, for God's sake, stop having them.

Sister Maureen Paul Turlish 14 September 2010 - 3:29pm / United States

I do not think Pope Benedict's failure to deal with Roger Vangheluwe will sit well in Belgium or in the wider world community. This, after his refusal to accept the resignations of the Irish bishops, demonstrates an appalling lack of sensitivity as well as accountability.

Clericalism has often been described as the pursuit of ecclesiastical power at the expense of the laity. It is viewed as an elite caste unaccountable to the People of God.

It is this mindset peculiar to bishops and priests that renders otherwise ordinary good men so insensitive to the moral depravity present in some of their fellows that they will go to any lengths to enable, protect and cover up for them even years after the fact and in the case of ordinary priests renders them incapable of challenging Church leadership in the face of such evil.

Failing to protect the innocent from childhood sexual abuse all those decades ago and enabling further abuse by becoming complicit in covering up for perpetrators makes one wonder whether or not church leaders believe the words of Jesus in the Gospel.

Or is it rather that some do not consider Jesus’ words binding if following the words of the Lord embarrass one, causing him to lose statute and authority in the church? Is it a choice between arresting one’s advancement in this highly clericalized system and speaking truth to power?

Is it for all of these reasons and more?

This latest example of the abuse of power and authority in the Roman Catholic Church by Cardinal Godfried Danneels, the former leader of the Belgian Church, puts the lie to statements made not so many years ago by members of the hierarchy that the sexual abuse of children by clergymen was uniquely an American phenomenon.

And probably not the half of what has been going on in the Belgian Church is really known at this time. This in a country that is approximately the size of the state of Maryland in square miles.

Here in the United States previously sealed depositions that church authorities never expected to be made public support the fact that attempts at containment know no national boundaries.

Crimes against humanity? No question.

As such they should be brought before the world court. After all, the Holy See is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child even though it has submitted none of the periodic compliance reports beyond the initial one.

Will the institutional Church take ownership for the complicity of its leadership in covering up for the actions of those who have preyed on the young and their own actions in putting so many more children in harm’s way?

Doubtful.

To date, have any complicit bishops in the U.S. been sanctioned for their actions? Rewarded, yes. Sanctioned, no.

The crisis continues worldwide while in the U.S. bishops and state Catholic Conferences continue to viciously oppose legislative reform in any state where bills addressing it have been introduced. New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland and Colorado are a few examples.

Certainly not what one expected when the bishops promised Accountability & Transparency in 2002.

Can the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church be blind to the fact that its actions in continuing on its present course are speeding up an already unprecedented erosion of credibility among the ordinary faithful who want to cling to the belief that church leadership is capable of telling the truth and being accountable for its failures in protecting children?

Is it not this hubris of leadership, this horrific abuse of power that has created the rough seas, that perfect storm in which the Barque of Peter now finds itself floundering?

Or did Jesus’ words mandating the protection of children, the most vulnerable among us, include the caveat that his words were binding only if in protecting the children the cost was not too high?

Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
Victims’ Advocate
New Castle, Delaware
maureenpaulturlish@yahoo.com

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