Friday, April 23, 2010

Now, a paedophile bishop.

When the Vatican announces that a bishop has submitted his resignation in accordance with Canon 401 §2, we often wonder what the 'some other grave cause' might be.

Canon 401 §2 states:
A diocesan bishop who has become less able to fulfill his office because of ill health or some other grave cause is earnestly requested to present his resignation from office.
The Vatican News Service announced today:
VATICAN CITY, 23 APR 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Bruges, Belgium, presented by Bishop Roger Joseph Vangheluwe, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.
In the past that would be as much as we'd be told. Now the Church is being more transparent and open, as it needs to be, to deal with this sorry scandal that is afflicting the Church.

The Vatican News Service gives the following details:
VATICAN CITY, 23 APR 2010 (VIS) - Given below are the texts of two declarations, one by Bishop Roger Joseph Vangheluwe of Bruges, Belgium, concerning his resignation from office, and the other by Archbishop Andre-Mutien Leonard of Mechelen-Brussels, Belgium. Both declarations were delivered during a press conference held at midday today in Brussels.

"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".

Declaration by Archbishop Andre-Mutien Leonard of Mechelen-Brussels.

"We are facing a particularly serious situation. Our thoughts go first and foremost to the victim and his family, some of whom have learned the shocking news only today. For the victim this has been a long Calvary, which has clearly not yet ended.

"As for Bishop Roger Vangheluwe, as a person he has the right to conversion, trusting in the mercy of God. However, as regards his function, it is vital that, out of respect for the victim and his family, and out of respect for the truth, he should resign from office. This is what he has done. The Pope immediately accepted the resignation of the bishop of Bruges, which is at this moment is being published in Rome.

"The Church thus underlines the importance of not procrastinating in such cases. We hope to contribute to the rehabilitation of the victim.

"The decision of the bishop of Bruges, and the calling of this press conference, express the transparency that the Catholic Church in Belgium rigorously wishes to apply in these matters, turning a new page with respect to the not-so-distant period in which the Church, and others, preferred the solution of silence or concealment.

"It goes without saying that this event will cause great suffering in the whole Catholic community of Belgium, especially because Bishop Vangheluwe was considered a generous and dynamic person, much appreciated in his diocese and in the Belgian Church. We, his confreres, are aware of the crisis of trust this will provoke in many people. Nonetheless, we dare to hope that wisdom will prevail and that the bishops, and especially the priests, of this country will not be unduly discredited as a group, because the vast majority live a lifestyle coherent with their vocation, with a faithfulness for which I here publicly express my thanks".
OP/ VIS 20100423 (510)
The suffering caused is not limited to the Catholic community of Belgium. It afflicts the whole mystical body.

The BBC report it here.


  1. I trust that from this day forward he will NEVER be able to function as a priest. He more than any other has brought such shame and disgrace upon Christ's body,his church.
    I say this as someone who has seen both of my previous novice masters convicted and jailed of child abuse. One of these shameful priests latter went on to become Abbot.The other had served as Prior.
    Why, with the knowledge of what what they have inflicted on the innocents do they accept such positions of privilege,power and trust within the Church. Am I really so naive?

  2. Yes, there is always suspicion when bishops resign ahead of their retirement dates and there is no obvious reason for it. But what is also significant is that in the most egregious cases the resignations didn’t come from a personal sense of repentance or remorse for what they had done. Rather, they resulted from the imminent threat of exposure or having already been exposed. I’m thinking of American cases of bishops such as Dupre, O’Connell, Ryan, Symons, Weakland and Ziemann and international cases such as Maciel Degollado, Cdl. Groer, Kurt Krenn, etc.

    Like high-profile offenders in the secular world who are profuse in their apologies once they have been found out, the expressions of remorse often ring hollow and one has the feeling that their ‘sorrow’ is due more to having been exposed than to remorse over the gravity of their actions. But even worse are those who continue to cling to office hoping to fly ‘under the radar’ and avoid exposure.

    The much vaunted ‘Dallas Charter’ here in the US set the stage for dealing with offending priests, but did nothing to deal with offending bishops. Granted the cases of bishops are more complicated as they involve issues of jurisdiction - each bishop being sovereign in his own diocese. But for true reform and transparency there has to be a mechanism for dealing with offending bishops – and it has to come from Rome. It is sad to note that apparently the only time a bishop sees the error of his ways is when he has been publicly shamed into doing so.

  3. He says he was sorry-but he accepted the role of bishop. I don't know what to make of that.


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