Pope accepts Belgian bishop's resignation after admission of abuse

Pope accepts Belgian bishop's resignation after admission of abuse


Pope Benedict XVI officially accepted the resignation of Bishop of Bruges Roger Joseph Vangheluwe on Friday. The bishops resignation was seen as "indispensable" for truth by the president of the Belgian bishops.

Bishop Vangheluwe's resignation was officially announced by the Vatican just after noon local time. The resignation is the second in as many days due to involvement in cases of pedophilia in the Church.

Accompanying the brief note from the Vatican announcing Pope Benedict's decision was an official statement from the bishop himself admitting his own guilt of committing sexual abuse against a minor.

Beginning from the time he was a "simple priest" and continuing into the the first part of his episcopate, he wrote, he "sexually abused a young person."

In the last decade, Bishop Vangheluwe explained, he has "recognized his fault" to the victim and the victim's family and asked for forgiveness.

Saying that "media storm" in recent weeks has "reinforced the trauma," he stated, and "it is no longer possible to continue in this situation."

The message concludes with the bishop asking for the forgiveness of the victim, the family of the victim, "all the Catholic community and of society in general."

Newly appointed primate of the Belgian Church, Archbishop of Malines-Brussels Andre-Joseph Leonard also released a statement on Friday in which he spoke of the "particularly serious situation" the Church is facing and its will to provide transparency.

He stated that the 73-year-old bishop's resignation was "indispensable" both out of "respect for the victims and his or her family and for respect of the truth."

The archbishop said that it's time to "turn the page" from the time in which the Church "preferred the 'solution' of silence and of covering up."

Bishop Vangheluwe had been the bishop of Bruges since 1985.

The announcement of Belgian bishop's resignation comes just a day after the Pope accepted that of Bishop Jim Moriarty of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin in connection with the years he worked in the Archdiocese of Dublin as an auxiliary bishop. While he wasn't directly criticized of sexual abuse, he said that he "should have challenged the prevailing culture."

Also on Thursday, Bishop of Augsburg Walter Mixa sent his resignation papers to Pope Benedict XVI, saying that he didn't wish to cause further damage to the Church after allegations that he physically abused children.