Thursday, March 31, 2011

Belgian panel asks church to compensate abuse victims


2:48 p.m. EDT, March 30, 2011

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A Belgian parliamentary inquiry asked the Catholic Church Wednesday to compensate people who were abused by priests as children.

Widespread sexual abuse of minors by Belgian clerics has driven at least 13 people to suicide, a Church commission said last year.

"We recommend that the church puts in place an arbitration commission to be able to compensate the victims even if the facts are very old," said Lalieux Karine, the president of the inquiry. "It's money, but if they want a moral recognition they also can (ask for it)."

Belgium's lower house set up the inquiry to examine an issue that has rocked the Catholic Church across the world and resulted in hundreds of victims coming forward.

Earlier this month Germany's Catholic Church put forward a plan to compensate victims of sexual abuse by its priests, offering payments of up to 5,000 euros ($7,032) to those whose cases were too old to bring to court.

Pope Benedict met victims of abuse by priests during his April 2008 visit to the United States. The U.S. church has paid $2 billion in settlements to victims since 1992.

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