Belgian cardinal 'covered up abuse'

 

The former head of Belgium's Catholic Church urged a sexual abuse victim to delay a public statement on the case until the bishop involved resigned, it has emerged.

Belgium's De Standaard newspaper yesterday carried transcripts of a meeting Cardinal Godfried Danneels held with Bishop Roger Vangheluwe and a sexual abuse victim of the bishop in April 2010.

"It is true this meeting and conversation took place, and that the transcript is correct," a Church spokesman confirmed.

Cardinal Danneels's spokesman Toon Osaer said the cardinal had not covered up anything and had openly spoken about the April 2010 meeting following Dr Vangheluwe's resignation two weeks after the conversation took place.

In the transcripts, the cardinal suggested the victim should make no public statement about the abuse until the bishop retired the following year.

"It might be better to wait for a date in the next year, when he is due to resign," Cardinal Danneels told the victim, according to the transcripts. He told the victim he believed a public announcement would not serve the interests of the victim or the bishop, the transcripts said.

"I don't know if there will be much to gain from making a lot of noise about this, neither for you nor for him."

Dr Vangheluwe resigned after admitting having abused the victim for a number of years, both as a priest and a bishop.

Cardinal Danneels retired in January and has been questioned as a witness in an investigation into sexual abuse by the Church in Belgium.