BRUSSELS – Hundreds of sex abuse
victims have come forward in Belgium with harrowing accounts of molestation by
Catholic clergy that reportedly led to at least 13 suicides and affected
children as young as two, an independent Belgian commission said Friday.
Professor Peter Adriaenssens,
chairman of the commission, said the abuse in Belgium may have been even more
rampant than the 200-page report suggests, because his panel's work was
interrupted and all its files seized in a June 24 raid by Belgian judicial
authorities who are conducting their own probe.
Adriaenssens, a child
psychiatrist who has worked with trauma victims for 23 years, said nothing had
prepared him for the stories of abuse that blighted the lives of victims. He
called the report's findings "a body blow" to the Roman Catholic Church
Belgian church authorities said
they would react on Monday to the report. The Vatican had no immediate comment.
The report's findings are the
latest embarrassment for Belgium's Catholic Church, which is still reeling after
the April resignation of Bruges Bishop Roger Vangheluwe, who admitted to having
sexually abused a nephew for years when he was a priest and bishop.
Friday's report lists 507
witnesses who came forward with stories of molestation at the hands of clergy
over the past decades. It says those abused included children who were two,
four, five and six years old.
Family members or friends said
13 victims committed suicide that "was related to sexual abuse by clergy,"
the report said. Six other witnesses said they had attempted suicide. "It is
notable how often one issue comes back in the witness reports: the high number
of suicides," the report said.
The number of those coming
forward with their stories and testimonies, however, could be only a fraction of
those actually abused, Adriaenssens said. He added that many priests cooperated
with the panel, which was founded by Belgian bishops and had the support of the
church there but worked independently.
"We saw how priests, called
up by the commission and asked to help seek the truth, were willing to set up
the list of 10, 15, 20 victims they abused during boarding school while the
commission knew only of one," he said.
Belgian Archbishop Andre-Joseph
Leonard, who was appointed earlier this year, said he will come forward with a
new initiative Monday on how to deal with cases of abuse, prevent further abuse
and help victims seek closure.
His spokesman Jurgen
Mettepenningen said the archbishop didn't comment Friday so as not to distract
attention from the report's contents.
Leonard's predecessor, Cardinal
Godfried Danneels, acknowledged Wednesday that damage control often took
precedence in Belgium over concerns for victims in sexual abuse cases involving
The crisis in the Belgian church
was exacerbated last month, when secret tapes were published of Danneels
speaking with the man whom Vangheluwe abused and suggesting a cover-up until
Vangheluwe was to retire in 2011. Danneels said Wednesday he should have asked
Vangheluwe to resign immediately.
Copyright © 2010 The Associated
Press. All rights reserved.
Antipope Benedict XVI should
worry about his flock of followers being molested and not what a Quran burning
preachher wants to do?
The most staggering fact of
all is that people still attend these churches in droves and tithe their 10 %
when they know what is going on!!! Totally amazing!! Just keep sacrificing your
children on the alter so you can get into heaven you miserable excuse for
parents. Any parent that takes their child to a Catholic church or school should
have their children removed from them by social services and the parents should
be thrown in prison for exposing their childern to potential abuse! What will it
take to wake people up?
I wonder what the nincomPope
will say to latest? "When the fox preaches, look to your geese." German Proverb.
Should find a Belgium Proverb
The Catholic church needs
total transformation from within: from its present conservative outdated relic
of a form to a more modern progressive, even secular, church, with leaders than
can appreciate the need for changing cultural values. However, they have far too
much money (billions and billions of unearned, tax-free money); they can pay off
lawyers until the cows come in. What a group!
Send the hypocrite pastor
Jones to burn them.
Living in a glass house and
thowing stones at othes'
The Church has been full of
double-talk. Just calling something what it is not, then hoping you will believe
them. Few do these days. This is a gang that has lost all moral credibility!
Religious mumbo-jumbo is simply no longer good enough to get them out of the
present pedo-priest crisis! Shame on them!
Is there no end to the
scandal! Can the Vatican mafia and the nincomPope do nothing but talk? Today RCC
leaders have been seduced by power and money rather than any true Christian
mission. Glad to see that the Belgians are using the power to try and put things
right. The Church certainly is NOT!