Belgian bishop resigns over paedophile scandal

23rd April 2010, Comments 0 comments

One of Belgium's bishops has resigned over a paedophile case, adding to a growing list of churchmen tainted by scandals that have been shaking the Catholic Church, various sources said late Thursday.

The Belgian episcopal conference called a press conference for Friday to be attended by the head of the Belgian Catholic Church, Andre-Joseph Leonard, as well as officials of a church committee inquiring into paedophilia.

It did not name the bishop concerned or give the exact reasons for his resignation, but Belga news agency said he was the bishop of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe.

A source close to the affair told AFP that it was a case of paedophilia while Belga, quoting "reliable sources", reported that "serious facts" were behind the resignation.

However it was not clear whether the churchman himself was guilty or whether he had covered up for someone else.

The press conference was due at midday (1000 GMT) on Friday in Brussels.

The abuse scandal that has swept through the Catholic Church in Europe cost the head of an Irish bishop Thursday as its leaders in England and Wales offered a full apology to victims.

Irish bishop James Moriarty apologised to those who suffered child abuse committed by priests after his resignation was formally accepted by Pope Benedict XVI, and admitted he should have challenged a culture of secrecy.

In a significant day in the scandal, the leaders of the five million Roman Catholics in England and Wales said the crimes had brought "deep shame" to the whole Catholic Church and there were "no excuses" for paedophile priests.

Meanwhile in the pope's native Germany, Walter Mixa, the bishop of Augsburg, offered to stand down after he admitted hitting children, although there was no suggestion he was guilty of sexual abuse.

The Belgian Catholic church had apologised Wednesday as a priest lost his appeal against paedophile charges ranging over seven years.

The archdiocese of Malines-Brussels, around the Belgian capital, confirmed that former priest Robert Borremans lost an appeal against a prison sentence for rape and other acts against a minor.

The diocese, in a statement, offered its apology for "these serious acts".

Borremans received a five-year jail term in early 2008, with three years suspended, for acts committed against a boy between 1994 and 2001.

That sentence was confirmed Wednesday by the Brussels appeal court.

The disgraced priest presided over the marriage of Belgium's Crown Prince Philippe to Princess Mathilde in 1999.

© 2010 AFP

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