Sunday 17 December 2017

Former bishop admits abusing his nephews

Tom Heneghan in Brussels

A FORMER Belgian bishop at the centre of one of the Roman Catholic church's biggest paedophile scandals said he had abused two nephews but insisted he had no plans to abandon the priesthood.

In his first television interview since the scandal broke a year ago, Roger Vangheluwe (74) claimed he paid one nephew tens of thousands of euro in support, but denied it was meant to keep him silent.

He called 13 years of sexual abuse of the child which started at five as no more than "a little piece of intimacy" and said the abuse of a second nephew was very short.

He said he fully realised he did wrong and often went to confession about it. Vangheluwe resigned a year ago. He claimed the abuse "started as a game'.'

"I had the strong impression that my nephew didn't mind at all. To the contrary," he said. "It was not brutal sex. I never used bodily, physical violence."

Walter Van Steenbrugge, the lawyer for the nephew, denied Vangheluwe's claim that he paid the victim, now in his forties, €25,000 several times over.

Justice minister Stefaan De Clercq said the church authorities "had to take measures to stop the irresponsible behaviour of the former bishop".

The Vatican has ordered Vangheluwe to no longer work as a priest while officials determine his punishment.

Irish Independent

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