Saturday, April 16, 2011

Belgian of the week: Roger Vangheluwe

If you think being "Belgian of the week" necessarily means that I like you, this should help you to think otherwise.

Roger Vangheluwe. (Wikipedia)
Roger Vangheluwe (b. 1936 in Roeselare) was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest in 1963. In December 1984, he was made Bishop of Bruges by Pope John Paul II. He held this position for twenty-five years.

In April 2010, he became the first Roman Catholic bishop in history to resign after being revealed to be a criminal paedophile. He admitted to having abused his nephew repeatedly for 13 years, starting when the boy was 5 years old. The abuse began when he was a priest and continued after Vangheluwe was made a bishop.

Since he could not be formally persecuted (child abuse crimes expire after 10 years in Belgium), Vangheluwe could safely retreat to Westvleteren Abbey, famous for its monk-brewed Trappist beer. Although he had resigned as Bishop of Bruges, he was reported to be receiving a state pension of about €2,500 a month.

On 19 November 2010, seven months after the abuse had been made public, the Vatican announced that they had started a formal investigation of Roger Vangheluwe.

The family and attorneys of Vangheluwe's nephew, several prominent Belgian politicians, and the people of Belgium have called out to the Vatican, the only authority that now has any power in the matter, to bring about some justice and punish the the old bastard. Were their prayers heard? On 9 April 2011 came this statement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:
Roger Vangheluwe has to leave Belgium and accept a period of spiritual and psychological treatment.
After receiving this sentence, Vangheluwe relocated to the Loire Valley in France. On April 14 he was approached by a Flemish TV network, to which he gave his most controversial interview yet.

The ex-bishop admitted to having abused a second nephew. He called the sexual relationship with his first nephew "a game" and said that it "never went much beyond that". He emphasized that rape or physical violence never occurred. He clarified that he had never been naked in the presence of his nephew.

In short, he chose to trivialize his crimes rather than repent.

So far, ex-bishop Vangheluwe has had the protection and support of the Roman Catholic Church. Taking the last couple of days into consideration, I would say it's only a question of time before even the high hats at the Vatican realize that they need to cut their losses and wash their hands of this man, lest he pull them down with him.

Actually, that would be great.

1 comment:

  1. Agreed :-| I saw a part of the interview on tv, it's disgusting. *shudder*