Belgian cardinal says no 'conscious' sex-abuse cover-up

21st December 2010, Comments 1 comment

The former head of Belgium's Roman Catholic Church said Tuesday that top bishops did not "consciously" cover up a child sex abuse scandal going back decades.

Cardinal Godfried Danneels spent four hours being quizzed by Belgian lawmakers at a hearing into the scandal of nearly 500 cases of abuse by priests and church workers since the 1950s, including 13 victims who committed suicide.

Expressing his "horror" at the revelations produced by a church-backed commission this year, Danneels, the church's chief between 1979 and 2009, said "there was no drive to consciously cover up the sexual abuse or deny it."

The 77-year-old said he wanted to "explicitly acknowledge and express very clearly my horror for what (the victims) endured at the hands of servants of the church."

He said perpetrators should "pay damages as established by justice" but refused to say if the church itself should pay victims.

"This decision will be taken in the coming weeks by the conference of bishops, of which I am no longer a member," he said.

Danneels' successor, Andre-Joseph Leonard, will appear before lawmakers on Wednesday, the same day a court is expected to decide if truckloads of evidence seized by police in spectacular raids on the Belgian Catholic Church HQ are admissible in judicial proceedings.

© 2010 AFP

1 Comment To This Article

  • Judy Jones posted:

    on 21st December 2010, 20:53:25 - Reply

    So Cardinal Danneels, are you saying that you were "unconscious" when you covered up a child sex abuse scandal ? are saying, "the perpetrators should "pay damages as established by justice" ?

    Yes, that all could be true, I guess, BUT if the church officials would have turned the child predators over to the law enforcement immediately, instead of moving them from parish to parish... Those perpetrators would have been in jail, and away from kids, but instead you created a way for these child predators to sexually abuse many more innocent children.

    Cardinal Danneels, I think you need to back up and start over.... because when you tell one lie, then you have to tell another lie to cover up the lies that have told before. Stop this vicious cycle of lies and deceit, for the sake of victims and for the sake of protecting kids

    Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, 636-433-2511,,
    "Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests"

    Founded in 1989, SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priest ( is the world's oldest and largest organization of clergy sexual abuse survivors, with over 10,000 members and 72 chapters in the United States.