Because the reporting on the Vangheluwe – Danneels case is in Dutch, much of the information is difficult to access.
One important piece of background has recently surfaced. Tom Heneghan of Reuters wrote to Austen Ivereigh at America:
What is not said in the transcripts but was reported in the other paper running the transcripts (Het Nieuwsblad) is that the victim was moved to speak out after learning that Vangheluwe had consecrated a deacon who was a child abuser. One of his victims later committed suicide. Vangheluwe’s victim felt this might have been avoided if he had spoken out about Vangheluwe years ago. The victim cannot just accept an apology from his uncle, he feels a duty to do more, but he does not come across as vengeful. At one point early on, he even says to Danneels that if he (D) suggests a coverup is the only way, he might have to learn to live with that. But then he pulls himself together again and says Vangheluwe simply cannot stay in office if the Church is to stand for anything at all.
Ivereigh is backing away from his attempt to soften Danneels action or rather refusal to act. Danneels was caught on tape acting like bishops usually act and will continue to act. And Danneels will suffer no consequences, nor will any future bishop who covers up sexual abuse suffer any consequences, and they know it. Until we get a true reforming pope like Pius V, the hierarchy will continue to tolerate abuse whenever they can get away with it – which is almost always.
What Vangheluwe did to his nephew could have gotten him executed in very painful fashion in the Middle Ages – but Danneels doesn’t even want Vangheluwe to suffer any embarrassment. Such are the tender hearts of our hierarchs – for each other, not for us.
PS It appears from this article that in 1995 Vangheluwe ordained a certain Marc V as a deacon, even though Vangheluwe knew that Marc V. was a convicted child abuser (suspended sentence) and that one of Marc V.’s victims had committed suicide in 1991. The victim’s mother pleaded in vain to Vangheluwe not to ordain the man who had driven her son to suicide. Vangheluwe insisted the victim’s family must forgive Marc V.The nephew felt that his silence enabled this situation: if he had spoken out, Vangheluwe would not be a bishop and therefore he would not have been able to ordain Marc V. as a deacon.
The attitude of the hierarchy toward child abuse can be seen in this ordination. They were willing to ordain a man who had driven his abuse victim to suicide. Perhaps, in fact, the fact that Marc V had abused children before his ordination was a plus: another abuser in the clergy who would “understand” and not “judgmental” toward what Vangheluwe had done to his nephew.
Marc V. remained a deacon and worked in a Catholic school until Vangheluwe’s downfall caused his background to become public. Then he was “temporarily” removed.