Belgian Bishops and Religious Superiors
January 12, 2012
[Below we provide a translation of the table of contents and of the first paragraphs of the report. The report was released in Flemish and French versions.]
Table of Contents
Part I: Lessons learned from painful stories
1. Breaking the silence 9
2. Origin of sexual abuse 11
3. Proximity and distance 14
4. Do not let abusers in peace 15
Part II: Milestones for the treatment and prevention of sexual abuse
1. Towards a comprehensive and integrated approach 19
2. Roads of recognition and repair services 21
3. Barred and non-barred offenses 22
4. Ten local collection points 24
5. Restorative mediation 29
6. Arbitration 30
7. Criminal procedure 32
8. Future of the abuser 35
9. Increase prevention 37
10. Transparency and cooperation among all those responsible 41
Appendices (Contact Information) 51
In recent months we have been deeply affected by a wave of poignant stories of sexual abuse within the Church Catholic. As bishops and religious superiors, we first kept silent, except to answer questions from the Special Commission on the treatment of sexual abuse and acts of pedophilia in positions of authority, especially within the Church and to present an initial response through the media. This silence was not indifference. It had nothing in common with a desire to conceal the facts. It revealed our amazement; we humbly bowed our heads, and beneath the shock, we wondered how serious these occurrences were. Over the last eighteen months, the opportunity was offered to us personally to listen to victims, most often, unfortunately, for the first time. The stories were then associated with the names and faces, often after years of hidden suffering and sadness. The harm inflicted on victims by our failure to recognize the facts filled us, the leaders of the church, with sadness. It is true that sexual abuse and ethics contradict the message that the Church would spread.
After a period of in-depth study, the time has come for us to act in a consistent and energetic manner. Thanks to the help of experts from various disciplines, we have developed a comprehensive plan of action on sexual abuse in the Church and its impact on victims. The thrust of this action plan is summarized in the text presented below.
First and foremost, we would like to listen to victims of abuse sex and those who assist them. We want to spend time and provide the space so that they can express their grief, their pain and anger. We cannot retrieve the past [to change it]. We can only, as far as possible, try to offer what was then most lacking in the first place — humanity and solidarity. In dialogue with the victims, we want to find the best way to assist them. In this policy document, we offer several ways of doing so.
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