Inquiry Uncovers Widespread Sexual Abuse by Belgian Priests

By Bruno Waterfield
Vancouver Sun
September 11, 2010

Children have been sexually abused by clergy or church workers in every Roman Catholic congregation in Belgium, an inquiry claims. Investigators working with the support of the Belgian Catholic Church received 475 complaints of child abuse by clergy committed in the 1950s through to the late 1980s.

"We can say that no congregation escapes sexual abuse of minors by one or several of its members," the commission concludes.

The 200-page report, published Friday, has testimonies from 124 anonymous victims, claiming that abuse for most began at the age of 12.

It notes a "high number of suicides" with 13 deaths and six attempts attributed to "sexual abuse by a cleric."

Peter Adriaenssens, who chaired the commission, said: "None of us was prepared for the severity of some of the accounts of abuse that we were given."

A woman, quoted in the report, tells how she was abused at the age of 17 by a priest and tried to seek help from a bishop in 1983.

She said: "I told him, 'I have a problem with one of your priests.'

"He told me: 'Ignore him and he will leave you alone.' "

But the commission found there was no evidence of a systematic coverup.


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