Belgian former bishop who sexually abused nephews removed from priesthood, years after confessing

Belgian former bishop who sexually abused nephews removed from priesthood, years after confessing - Crime and Courts - News

Belgian Former Bishop, Who Admitted to Sexually Abusing Nephews, Dismissed from the Clerical State by Pope Francis

The Catholic Church has taken disciplinary action against a Belgian former bishop, Bishop Roger Vangheluwe, who confessed to sexually abusing two of his nephews. The Vatican announced on Thursday that the 87-year-old Bishop had been dismissed from the clerical state following the emergence of new serious elements in the case.

Bishop Vangheluwe’s resignation as bishop of Bruges took place in 2010, after he publicly acknowledged abusing one nephew for an extended period. Later, he disclosed that he had also sexually abused a second nephew but was not charged due to the statute of limitations in Belgium.

The Belgian bishops have long called upon the Vatican to expel Bishop Vangheluwe from the priesthood due to the growing public outrage and the country’s abuse scandals. The case became a symbol of the ongoing issue, and his presence was threatening to overshadow Pope Francis’ planned visit to Belgium in 2024.

The Belgian Prime Minister, Alexander de Croo, previously requested that the Vatican remove Bishop Vangheluwe’s bishop title. In response to his dismissal from the priesthood, the prime minister expressed approval, stating “This is the right decision.”

Bishop Vangheluwe will continue to reside in a monastery following this action. The Belgian church has faced significant scrutiny and pressure due to the parliamentary commission investigating sexual abuse cases within the Church, as well as a documentary that stirred up national outrage.

Pope Francis’ decision to expel Bishop Vangheluwe from the priesthood is part of his ongoing efforts to address the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse crisis. The Pope has previously expanded the church’s sexual abuse laws to cover lay leaders and has emphasized the need for transparency and accountability within the Church regarding such matters.

The Vatican’s action against Bishop Vangheluwe signifies a crucial step in addressing the ongoing issue of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church and holding its members accountable for their actions.