No apology for victims of abuse as Church fears claims
Published 15/09/2010 | 05:00
The Roman Catholic Church in Belgium failed to say sorry for decades of child sexual abuse by its priests because an official apology would provoke a flood of expensive compensation claims, a senior bishop has admitted.
Guy Harpigny, the Bishop of Tournai, who is responsible for rooting out sex abusers within the Belgian Church, has further inflamed outrage by admitting that financial concerns over litigation prevented an official apology.
"We did not dare. If you officially apologise, then you are acknowledging moral and legal responsibility. Then there are people who ask for money and we don't know what lawyers and the courts will do about that," he said.
There has been widespread anger that Belgian bishops have failed to apologise and begged for more time to deal with an independent report that uncovered sex abuse committed by at least 91 priests, other clergy or church workers in every congregation in Belgium over four decades.
San Deurinck (65), a Catholic activist who tried to commit suicide after he was abused by two priests as a teenage boy, has called on the Church to hand paedophile priests to the police. "Let the Church understand that justice must do her work," he said.
Belgian bishops and the Vatican have also clashed over whether the Pope should punish Roger Vangheluwe, the former Bishop of Bruges who plunged the church into crisis in April after admitting that he had abused his nephew and had tried to pay off the family.
A Vatican spokesman, said the Pope had no plans for further action after a "quick decision" to accept the bishop's resignation. (© Daily Telegraph, London)