Belgian Church Announces Centre for Sex Abuse Victims

Vatican Radio
September 13, 2010

The Church in Belgium has announced the opening of a centre for recovery, reconciliation and rehabilitation for victims of abuse by church members. The planned centre was announced by the Archbishop of Malines-Brussels, Joseph Leonard during a press conference this morning.

Speaking on behalf of the Belgian bishops, he said the Church is determined "to learn the necessary lessons from the terrible events of the past". In this process, the bishops will follow five important suggestions; firstly that the victims themselves, at their insistence, be involved in planning any new initiative.

In fact, the suggestion for a centre for "recovery, reconciliation and renewal", was put forward by a victim, after the Independent Commission set up by the Church to investigate complaints of sexual abuse folded in the wake of a police raid on its offices two months ago.

The Commission, headed by independent child psychiatrist Peter Adriaenssens, published its report Friday last detailing an estimated 300 cases of abuse on minors. Prof. Adriaenssens described the investigation process as "shocking" and underlined that most of the cases dated back to the 1960's and 1970's.

According to Archbishop Leonard, four experts will be appointed to begin preliminary discussions on collaboration and draw up the operating rules for the new centre. The archbishop said they hoped it will be operational within the year, but that in the meantime, an information desk will be open, with limited powers, to which people can send their inquiries via phone or email.

Archbishop Leonard concluded that it will take time to bring healing and closure given the enormity of the challenge which now faces the Church.

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