The tapes, which were published Saturday in the Flemish daily newspapers.
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2010 September 9
The tapes, which church authorities have verified as accurate, are among the more revealing documents in the continuing scandal of sexual abuse by clerics and subsequent cover-ups by the church: having a record of a cardinal entreating an abuse victim to keep his silence is another embarrassment for the Catholic Church. Read more:
Today, on the 9th of September 2010, I read about more details about the abuse of the Roman Catholic Church in Belgium. Here are some of the details:
Belgian Church Leader Urged Victim to Be Silent
The former leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Belgium urged a victim of serial sexual abuse by a bishop to keep silent for a year, until the bishop — the victim’s own uncle — could retire, according to tapes made by the victim last April and published over the weekend in two Belgian newspapers.
The tapes, which church authorities have verified as accurate, are among the more revealing documents in the continuing scandal of sexual abuse by clerics and subsequent cover-ups by the church. And having a record of a cardinal entreating an abuse victim to keep his silence is another embarrassment for the Catholic Church.
Cardinal Godfried Danneels, 77, who retired as the archbishop of Brussels in January after 30 years, met with the victim, now 42, and his uncle, Bishop Roger Vangheluwe, 73, on April 8 to press the victim either to accept a private apology or to wait until the bishop retired, according to the tapes.
“The bishop will resign next year, so actually it would be better for you to wait,” the cardinal told the victim. “I don’t think you’d do yourself or him a favor by shouting this from the rooftops.” The cardinal warned the victim against trying to blackmail the church and suggested that he accept a private apology from the bishop and not drag “his name through the mud.”
The victim responded, “He has dragged my whole life through the mud, from 5 until 18 years old,” and asked, “Why do you feel sorry for him and not for me?”
The tapes, which were published Saturday in the Flemish daily newspapers De Standaard and Het Nieuwsblad, display the tactics the church used to try to hush up the scandal and placate the victim by appealing to his feelings for his family and the larger church.
De Standaard said in an editorial that the cardinal’s “only aim is to avoid having the case made public so many years after the facts,” adding, “It is containment, nothing more.”
The Belgian cases are special in part because of an extensive police inquiry, not just an investigation by the church, into allegations of sexual abuse by the clergy and subsequent cover-ups.
Cardinal Danneels has been subject to at least 10 hours of police questioning in the matter, and the police raided church headquarters to seize documents, a raid criticized by the Vatican.
In a second tape, of the other meeting, the bishop apologizes to his nephew and says he has tried for years to make up for his sin. “This is unsolvable,” the victim said. “You’ve torn our family completely apart.”
The victim told the newspapers he released the tapes, apparently made secretly, to prove that he had not demanded hush money.
It is not known whether Cardinal Danneels or others informed the Vatican when they learned of the abuse by Bishop Vangheluwe. The Vatican accepted the bishop’s resignation in June, but said nothing about the case until the Belgian police raided church properties on June 24, seizing evidence and files that the church had assembled in its own belated investigation of sexual abuse. Pope Benedict XVI at the time called the police actions “deplorable.”
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