Belgium: a documentary on sexual abuse in the Church shakes the political world

In Belgium, the Catholic Church is under fire after the broadcast of a documentary on sexual abuse committed by clergymen. This report, in four episodes, was broadcast on the Flemish public channel VRT during the month of September. It has caused a real shockwave in the north of the country in recent weeks.

Bishop Johan Bonny addresses the press at a press conference regarding the Belgian bishops' request to suspend Roger Vangheluwe, in Antwerp, September 29, 2023. © Nicolas Maeterlinck / Reuters

By: RFI Follow


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With our correspondent in Brussels, Laure Broulard

The documentary series Godvergeten, or "Forgotten by God" in Dutch, continues to provoke reactions in the Flemish region. Through twenty chilling testimonies, the report makes a damning observation on the efforts of the Catholic hierarchy to cover up the sexual abuse committed by clerics for decades. The political world now calls on the Church to assume its responsibilities.

The series was invited this week to the Belgian Chamber of Deputies. Questioned on this subject on Thursday 28 September by parliamentarians, Prime Minister Alexander de Croo called on the Church to "acknowledge its guilt".

The judicial impasse of many victims

Many victims are in a judicial impasse, faced with prescribed attacks, dead perpetrators or simply removed, such as the former bishop of Bruges Roger Vangheluwe, forced to resign but never tried for rapes committed on his nephew.

Today, almost all Belgian political parties are calling for a parliamentary commission of inquiry on the subject, 13 years after a first special commission on sexual abuse in the Church. Established in 2010, this commission was carried out in the wake of a report that had already revealed hundreds of pedophile assaults.

Listen alsoSexual abuse in the Church: the already great mistrust of the faithful is gaining ground

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  • Belgium
  • Religion
  • Criminality
  • Christianity