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Disgraced Belgian bishop to go into seclusion

Belgium’s disgraced bishop Roger Vangheluwe will go into seclusion away from the diocese of Bruges, where a paedophilia scandal forced his April resignation, the Belgian press reported Sunday.

In a statement issued by the Belgian bishop’s conference, Vangheluwe, 73, said he was leaving the Westvleteren abbey where he had sought refuge for several months to withdraw “to another place, away from the Bruges diocese.”

Vangheluwe was the first Belgian bishop to resign in April after admitting to sexually abusing his nephew between 1973 and 1986 in a wave of pedophile scandals that has rocked the Catholic Church since last November.

“I will continue in discretion to ponder my life and my future,” he said.

The former bishop of Bruges also apologised to his victim, the victim’s family, the church, society and “all those who were affected by suffering.”

“As my regrets have only increased, now I see all the harm that my actions caused,” he said.

After his resignation, the Belgian Church received hundreds of complaints.

A report on Friday published by the Commission on Church-related Sexual Abuse Complaints, set up by the Catholic Church and headed by independent child psychiatrist Peter Adriaenssens said it had investigated 475 complaints between January and June this year.

Adriaenssens said in a press conference Friday that the scandals were the Church’s “Dutroux”, referring to Marc Dutroux who is serving life for six rapes and four murders that shocked Belgium in the 1990s.