Tapes reveal Belgian Cardinal stonewalling sex abuse


The colorful Bishop Vangheluwe before he resigned
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Leaked tapes of Belgium’s Cardinal Godfried Danneels urging a victim not to reveal he was sexually abused by a bishop are some of the most damaging documents to emerge in the scandal rocking the Roman Catholic Church.

The tapes, made secretly by the victim and published in two Belgian newspapers on Saturday, show the former primate of Belgium exhorting him to accept a private apology or wait one year until the bishop retired before making his case public.

Their meeting took place on April 8, at a time when the Vatican was under fire for allegedly covering up similar abuse cases by priests in other countries and shocking abuse claims dominated the news in several European states…

“From everything he says, it’s clear that his only aim is to avoid having the case made public so many years after the facts. It is containment, nothing more,” De Standaard wrote in a commentary accusing Danneels of lacking any compassion…

The Belgian tapes stand out as a rare verbatim record of how a leading Catholic prelate tried to persuade the victim, a 42-year-old nephew of Bruges Bishop Roger Vangheluwe, to keep the case quiet…

In their one-on-one meeting, the victim says he feels a duty to report the case to the Church hierarchy and asks Danneels to help. The cardinal responds by urging him not to go public.

“The bishop will resign next year, so actually it would be better for you to wait,” the cardinal says. “I don’t think you’d do yourself or him a favor by shouting this from the rooftops.”

The man pleads for help but Danneels, 77, who had stepped down as Brussels archbishop in January, says he cannot discipline Vangheluwe or inform higher authorities, including Pope Benedict…

Anyone surprised? Anyone shocked?

3 thoughts on “Tapes reveal Belgian Cardinal stonewalling sex abuse

  1. Morey says:

    “I don’t think you’d do yourself or him a favor by shouting this from the rooftops.”

    It’s always inspiring to hear a member of the clergy borrow a phrase or two from the bible.

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