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Vatican examines paedophile case of Bruges ex-bishop

The Vatican said Friday the office dealing with the most serious offences in the Catholic Church was examining the case of a former Belgian bishop who admitted sexually abusing his nephew.

Pope Benedict XVI asked the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith several weeks ago “to look into” the case of the former bishop of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said.

The pope accepted Vangheluwe’s resignation on April 23, after he admitted to sexually abusing his nephew between 1973 and 1986.

The 73-year-old went into seclusion and also apologised to his victim, the victim’s family, the Church and others. However many have called for him to be dismissed from the Church.

The Belgian Catholic Church has been reeling from a deluge of paedophile scandals after a church commission revealed nearly 500 cases of abuse by priests since the 1950s, including 13 victims who committed suicide.

“Naturally, this is very painful for the pope,” Lombardi said.

It “reveals once again the immense suffering of victims and again makes one acutely aware of the gravity of these crimes,” he said.

Similar scandals have surfaced in other European countries, including Ireland and Germany, as well as United States, creating the most serious crisis within the Roman Catholic Church in the past decades.