Saturday, August 28, 2010

Belgian Catholic cardinal tried to hush up abuse: reports

Belgian Catholic cardinal tried to hush up abuse: reports
The former head of the Belgian Catholic Church, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, sought to hush up the sexual abuse of a minor by the former bishop of Bruges, reports said Saturday.

The Flemish dailies De Standaard and Het Nieuwsblad published transcripts of recordings made by the victim of a confrontation on April 8 with Roger Vangheluwe in the presence of Danneels, who has been under investigation for shielding predator priests.

According to the recordings, Danneels tried to convince the victim to accept an apology or at least not make his allegations public until Vangheluwe retired a year later.

"It would be preferable to wait until a date next year," Danneels told the victim who passed the recording to Belgian newspapers.

He said an apology could also be given, adding that there was a "great difference" between "punishments which are public" and "those which are private."

Vangheluwe, 73, quit his post in April after admitting sexually abusing a boy over a period of years.

Last month Danneels was questioned by police for more than ten hours as part of a probe into sexual abuse by priests.

Danneels had been accused by a retired priest of protecting abusers when he headed the country's Catholic Church from 1979 to 2009, but he denied any cover-up.

His spokesman Toon Oaser told De Standaard that he had "never tried to cover up the affair."

Belgium is one of the countries worst hit by a rising tide of revelations of paedophilia by Roman Catholic priests in Europe and North America.

In June, Belgian police raided a bishops' meeting as part of a probe into child sex abuse allegations, drawing stinging criticism from Pope Benedict XIV.

© 2010 AFP

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