Belgian cardinal urged victim to delay sex abuse statement

Sat Aug 28, 2010 6:22pm GMT
 

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The former head of Belgium's Catholic Church suggested to a sexual abuse victim it would be better to delay a public statement on the case until the bishop involved resigned in 2011, a Church spokesman said on Saturday.

Jurgen Mettepenningen confirmed transcripts in Belgium's De Standaard newspaper of a meeting Roman Catholic 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," Mettepenningen told Reuters.

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

In the transcripts, published in De Standaard on Saturday, Danneels suggested the victim should make no public statement about the abuse until Vangheluwe retired the following year.

"It might be better to wait for a date in the next year, when he is due to resign," 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."

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

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

(Reporting by Juliane von Reppert-Bismarck; editing by Ralph Boulton)

<p>Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels (R) and his successor Andre Mutien Leonard (L) address a joint news conference in Brussels January 18, 2010. REUTERS/Timothy Seren</p>
 
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