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April 23, 2010

Bishop Vangheluwe of Bruges, Belgium, resigns

Another episcopal domino topples as public awareness of and outrage at the clergy sexual abuse problem increases in Europe. I wish this problem would evaporate quickly, like waking up from a nightmare, but my guess is that the more likely scenario will be a protracted agony of more dominoes falling for some time to come.

"When I was still just a priest, and for a certain period at the beginning of my episcopate, I sexually abused a minor from my immediate environment. The victim is still marked by what happened. Over the course of these decades I have repeatedly recognised my guilt towards him and his family, and I have asked forgiveness; but this did not pacify him, as it did not pacify me. The media storm of recent weeks has increased the trauma, and the situation is no longer tenable. I profoundly regret what I did and offer my most sincere apologies to the victim, to his family, to all the Catholic community and to society in general. I have presented my resignation as bishop of Bruges to Pope Benedict XVI. It was accepted on Friday and so I retire". . . . (continue reading -- more coverage here)


  1. Patrick,

    I agree. His penitence is no doubt sincere, but a much better route would have been to have tendered his resignation as a priest 26 years ago. For a cleric to have engaged in such behavior and then to have accepted an appointment as Bishop and to continue in this behavior if only for a short time speaks poorly of his judgment at the time. I pray that both he and his victim are able to find some peace in Christ and pray that this long and agonizing nightmare will soon be at an end. I know of at least four people personally who have left the Catholic Church because of it.

    God bless,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  2. One wonders how so many men with these problems reached such high levels in the Church. It is so scandalous for those in the Church but especially for those outside it. I did recently read, however, that sexual abusers often strive to be "pillars of the community" and fool many people. Maybe that is what has happened within the Church as well. I long for the day when this is all under control and behind us. The only consolation is that it is bringing to the attention of the world the tragedy of this crime and how common it is in our culture. Hopefully the outrage will be sufficient to begin to end this horrible crime.

  3. Read 'Goodbye Good Men' by Michael Rose.

  4. The Church has to ban Homosexuals once and for all from becoming seminarians and being ordained. This disorder is an automatic disqualifier.

    A black and white ban. No more loopholes. No more letting them in because they are "chaste".

  5. It seems this case was handled quickly by the Church in Belgium, and they were not aware of the case before, but in my opinion, there should be public follow up in the interests of the faithful.

    It is now a couple of weeks before this became public and I haven't read any more comment. We can't judge individuals, but I think the Church has to publicly investigate why a potential bishop could imagine he could be ordained under these circumstances, and why it wasn't reported earlier.