Pope feels 'pain' over Belgium paedophilia scandal: Vatican

13th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Pope Benedict XVI feels "much pain" following revelations about the magnitude of the priest paedophilia scandal in Belgium, his spokesman told Belgian television on Monday.

"The pope is following very closely what is happening in the Belgian Catholic Church," Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told RTL-TVI in the wake of a report on sexual abuse by priests.

"Like everybody, he feels much pain after the publication of the report, which again reveals the huge suffering of victims and gives us an even more vivid sense of the gravity of the crimes," Lombardi said.

A 200-page report published Friday by the Commission on Church-related Sexual Abuse Complaints, set up by the Catholic Church, said it had investigated 475 complaints between January and June this year.

The document contains testimonies from some 124 anonymous "survivors" and reveals that the sexual abuse for most victims began at age 12, although one was aged just two, while 13 people were driven to suicide.

After a string of similar scandals in Germany, Ireland and the United States, the dam broke in Belgium in April when the disgraced bishop of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe, quit having admitted sexually abusing his nephew between 1973 and 1986.

Asked if the pope would defrock Vangheluwe, Lombardi said Benedict could consider such a sanction but a decision has not been taken.

"It is a decision that rests solely with the pope," he said.

© 2010 AFP

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