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The Kids Enjoy It

A friend of mine many years ago knew a priest who was accused of sexual abuse. The priest   denied it with tears, saying it was all a fabrication. My friend believed him and hired the best defense lawyer in town and got the priest off.


Then the priest was accused again.


My friend asked him, “What gives?”


The priest responded, “You don’t understand, the kids enjoy it.”


Bishop Vangheluwe of Belgium was accused of abusing his nephew. The bishop admitted it and the nephew recorded the conversation.


But the statute of limitations had run out, and Vangheluwe could not be prosecuted. The Vatican has ordered Vangheluwe to leave Belgium, but the bishop continues to give interviews.  

Bishop Roger Vangheluwe defended himself on television by saying the abuse he committed was only “superficial.”

Vangheluwe, who quit his post and went into hiding a year ago after admitting to molesting a nephew, confessed in the interview on Thursday evening that he had molested a second one. 


In his interview, Vangheluwe told VT4 television he was sorry for molesting his nephews but did not consider himself a pedophile or see the acts as anything serious.

“It had nothing to do with sexuality,” he said. “I have often been involved with children and I never felt the slightest attraction. It was a certain intimacy that took place.”

“I don’t have the impression at all that I am a pedophile. It was really just a small relationship. I did not have the feeling that my nephew was against it, quite the contrary.”

He continued:

“How did it start? As in all families: when they came to visit, my nephews would stay over,” Vangheluwe said.

“It began as a kind of game with this boy. It was never a question of rape, or physical violence. He never saw me naked and there was no penetration.

“I don’t in the slightest have any sense I am a paedophile. I don’t get the impression my nephew was opposed, quite the contrary,” he added, before admitting “I knew it wasn’t good, I confessed it several times.” 

Imitating his spiritual ancestor, Archbishop Leonard has washed his hands of the matter: 

Brussels Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard, who is head of the Belgian bishops conference, has caused controversy by saying the Church had no obligation to compensate victims.     

Pedophiles justify their actions to themselves by saying that the children enjoy it, that they are initiating them into sex, that it is a trivial mater and why does everyone have to get excited.

How widespread is this attitude among the clergy? A bishop has it.


Confession is also an issue. At one time the practice of auricular confession was rigorous. Penitents were not given absolution until they had demonstrated reform and performed the assigned penance.  Then Alphonse de Ligouri emphasized mercy and easier penances.


An Australian priest had abused for decades and said he went to confession hundreds of times.  He was given absolution hundreds of times. Something is wrong withtnat


What has gone wrong?


Serious sins need serious penances, not three Our Fathers.


There has also been a flattening of the concept of mortal sin, in which sexual fantasies are deserve hell as rape, incest, child abuse, and genocide.


The Catholic Church as a bigger problem than just pedophiles in the clergy.


If the Vatican laicizes Vangheluwe, they lose all control of him. What should the pope do?


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Cardinal Danneels – The Real Victim?

 In the movie Napoleon, Wellington has strictly forbidden his soldiers to loot on pain of death. He comes across a soldier with a chicken under his shirt. The soldier tries to come up with a convincing explanation of why there is a chicken under his shirt. Wellington turns to his aide and tells him to promote the soldier, saying, “I like someone who can defend an indefensible position.” 

Fernand Keuleneer, the attorney for Cardinal Danneels has a similar task. De Standard published the transcripts of the secretly-taped conversation between the victim of Bishop Vangheluwe and Danneels. In an article in the Belgian Catholic paper Tertio (which is available in a translation here on the America blog),  Keuleneer tries to explain and justify the Cardinal’s words.  

Keuleneer claims that Danneels was unprepared for the meeting and thought it was an attempt to achieve family recompilation. Dannels is a victim of an unjustified attack. But if everything that Danneels said is morally and legally justifiable, why is it character assassination to print Danneels’ own words?  

As Austen Ivereigh points out, Danneels was deaf to the victim’s plea for some form of justice and told the victim that it would be almost impossible to achieve and that demanding it was a form of blackmail. 

Vangheluwe was not simply an abuser and a sinner, he was an evil man. In the previous post I reported how he had ordained a convicted abuser as a deacon, an abuser who had driven his victim to suicide, despite the pleas of the victim’s mother not to ordain the abuser (who then went to work in a Catholic school). Vangheluwe insisted that the victim’s family must forgive the abuser, so that the abuser would continue having contact with children. This misuse of forgiveness, which Danneels is also guilty of, is very close to the sin against the Holy Ghost.

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Sexual Abuse and Suicide

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.

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The Clericalist Mind at Work

Roger Vangheluwe was a priest when he began sexually abusing his five-year-old nephew. The abuse continued even after 1984, when Vangheluwe, at age 48, became bishop of Bruges. 

The boy’s family pressured the boy to remain silent to preserve the bishop’s career. The bishop gave the family money (source of money unspecified). As he grew up, the boy was filled with anger. 

 Over the years, the nephew — who still does not want his name used publicly — channeled his rage into creating art: giant screaming images in gnarled wood or a montage of a boy being crushed by a mattress. (NYT) 

In 1996 Father Rik Devillé told Cardinal Godfried Danneels about the abuse.  

… he said, the cardinal listened impatiently, glancing frequently at his watch. Weeks later, Father Devillé received a letter from the cardinal. “Stop making unfounded public accusations against the church and its functionaries if you don’t have proof,” it read. (NYT)

(Danneels now claims to have no memory of this incident) 

A niece of the now-adult nephew received a holy card from Bishop Vangheluwe for her confirmation.  It had a note about the importance of a healthy childhood. This enraged the nephew, and he decided to confront Vangheluwe and Danneels. 

In April 2010 the nephew met with Vangheluwe and Cardinal Danneels. The nephew was expecting the new archbishop Leonard to be there but he did not come.  Vangheluwe left the room. 

(The translation of the transcript is rough. I will replace it if I can find a better one)

Nephew : So I lost my entire youth to abuse by my uncle Roger. Sexual and still mentally and I think I should do something and that I have a duty to report that to a higher authority.Danneels: What would you really want? I know the story, he has already told me. You should not tell me it all again, but what would you really want me to do?

Nephew: I give the responsibility to you, I cannot decide, I have this burden on my shoulders and I want rid myself of this burden and to give that burden to you. That is my intention.

Danneels: Yes …

Nephew: And you do what you think should be done, because I do not know how the whole system works, so …

Danneels: Do you want it to be published, anyway?

Nephew: Euuhm … I leave it to you.

Danneels: Actually, Monsignor will resign next year, would it actually be better that you wait.

Nephew: No, no, no.





Nephew: I want to go through it all. For him the only honest and the easiest way to die with an easy conscience would be to give up his responsibilities. It will be much easier for him. And before you actually go through the mud and everything you need to undergo, and then you come to terms with yourself.Danneels: That’s what prompted strong. It is quite strong to say: you have publicly humiliated for everyone.

Nephew: You need to anyway. He should just resign. 


 Ah yes, that’s the humiliation that he must resign, hey.Nephew: Yes yes.

Danneels: Then people say: why should he resign? So, they’re going to find out. you know, why he resigned they’re going to find out. Which is quite a burden …

Nephew: But why are you so sorry for him and not me?

Danneels: I can tell you that.

Nephew: You always try to defend him, I thought I was going to have some support, I must defend myself here from things I cannot do anything about.

Danneels: No, I’m not saying anything you can do anything about it but something should be done differently.

Nephew: But what should be done?

Danneels: Questions of forgiveness anyway.

Nephew: And that was enough for you

Danneels: When you say …

Nephew: Why should I? He had been able to do that much earlier but it was not necessary. When I was 18, my father told him. We are now 25 years on and he has never asked forgiveness, why could he not do that much earlier, then it might never have come this far.

No, I will not accept that he just disappears from the scene in heavenly glory and that it is the matter finished. He has his responsibility that he has taken all this and I wish that you now take your responsibility as the superior. That is my intention.

Danneels: Yes, I can do no wrong because I did not.






Danneels: Well, I would suggest that we might be better to wait for a date next year when he would usually resign.

No, I do not agree, and him taking glory in saying goodbye, no I cannot. The cover-up technique that you have used for so many years as you have, I’ll have to learn to live with, but eh  

(snip)Danneels: But I have no authority over Monsignor Vangheluwe.

Nephew: And who did?

Danneels: Actually, no one except the Pope.





Nephew: Then perhaps you can go through and that you can arrange an appointment with the Pope and then we’ll go there. It is already 42 years that I suffer and I want no more, I can not stop, I can not, and I would not leave everything as it is.It has a very big impact in the family in everything in my relationship with my wife in everything, I’m tired of that life and that the matter remains so dominant, and I would agree to that. I have arrived at the age that I want my freedom for life.

Danneels: Actually, the first responsibility lies with him, he, rather than from his superiors.

Nephew: But if he does not want to do what has to be done …

Danneels: What do you ask of him? that he would resign?

Nephew: But he must decide, I just want to tell, that’s it. You wish me to say something that I cannot say I can not, I do not know how to proceed, or should I look for another way for me to obtain closure.

And today I had demanded that he confess openly speaks to the family, saying that he did those things. While everyone is there.

Danneels: He will do that.

Nephew: I had expected for today, we can directly do better and we’ll see, if nothing happens, then I go to the pope.

Danneels: The pope is not so easy to get though to …





Danneels: I do not know if it would benefit either you or him to give a dramatic deadline.Nephew: I still think that the victim’s privacy should be respected, there should not be no names used.

Danneels: But yes, you put him in a quandary.

Nephew: I have all my life been in a difficult position, I’m not planning to have pity, I want that fight to finish, it has done for me, that I finally once again have a clean slate for myself that I do what I want to do.

I was in a Catholic school and I was brought up Catholic. I’m very upset with that institute, I also read the newspapers, so I think I have an obligation to do so. How can I get my children to believe in something with such a background that will not move on, then you just move straight into the next generation. And everything remains as it is, and that is not the intention of the church.

Danneels: No, it’s not the intention to discredit someone?

Nephew: Give me another solution, I should forgive and it is resolved.

Danneels: No, no, no.

Nephew: And he goes on as normal.

Danneels: You could also say he will resign next year anyway, and that for example, he says, look, I no longer go on television and such. With those things, and you come to a year.

Nephew: No, I want it placed in your hands and then you decide.

Danneels: You can grab us and blackmail, hey, and say look, you have to do something.

Nephew: What?

Danneels: You can blackmail and say, look if you do not say …

Nephew: Why should I want to blackmail? I’m not going to blackmail.

Danneels: Well, if you for example say they do nothing, and you bring it to public notice …






We were forced to be married by him, for everything, the children were baptized by him, how can I explain to them? I now have my oldest son who asked yesterday: Look, what happened with me. They do not yet know what happened? That is still true, that cannot continue, and waiting for everything to retutn to the same situation- that’s still no solution?Danneels: Ah! We can also, as I said, ask forgiveness and give forgiveness, which is also a possibility.


That’s not possible for me, I do not believe anymore, as you do in these things, no, it is not possible.

That’s not possible for me, I do not believe anymore, as you do in these things, no, it is not possible.







Nephew: If I cause an accident, drunk, I will also be punished.Danneels: A punishment sentences. You have penalties that are public and private penalties, that’s a big difference huh. Your name gets out, pulled through the mud …

Nephew: My name?

Danneels: His name.

Nephew: He has ensured that my whole life is pulled through the mud. From 5 to 18 years old. Can you imagine?



After this failed meeting a friend of the nephew e-mailed all the bishops of Belgium and revealed the abuse. The nephew very wisely secretly taped this meeting. He released the transcript after the Belgian bishops claimed that he was trying to blackmail them. 

Vangheluwe publicly admitted the abuse and resigned: 

 “When I was still just a priest, and for a certain period at the beginning of my episcopate, I sexually abused a minor from my immediate environment,” 

Danneels successor, Leonard, said this about the resignation of the confessed incestuous child abuser: 

that Vangheluwe was known as a “great brother and dynamic bishop” who was highly appreciated within the Belgian Church 

Several things come through in this transcript: Cardinal Danneels, a hero of the progressive wing of the Church, is as much a clericalist as the most hidebound Italian cardinal. His sole concern is protecting the career and reputation of a bishop. The pain of the victim, a mere layman, is invisible to Danneels, whose only concern is with a fellow cleric. 

Danneels disclaims all responsibility – only the pope can do anything – but of course it is very difficult to arrange a meeting with the pope. 

Vangheluwe is unrepentant. He has never asked for forgiveness. He nephew correctly states that the only way to obtain forgiveness is for Vangheluwe to take responsibility for what he has done, and Vangheluwe has refused to do that his whole life. 

The nephew is a classic example of the Stockholm syndrome. He let his abuser witness his marriage and baptize his children. The hierarchy has perfected the technique of cultivating the Stockholm syndrome among victims of clerical abuse. 

Danneels tries to manipulate the nephew but claiming that the nephew is blackmailing Danneels by saying he will go public unless V resigns. Danneels tells the victim that he – the victim – should ask for forgiveness. The misuse of demands to forgive to protect clerical malefactors will weigh heavy on the scales at the Day of Judgment. 

Belgian law states that the victim of sexual abuse has ten years after he reaches 18 to report the abuse. Since the nephew was under pressure from his family to keep quiet, he did not report in that time period and  Vangheluwe cannot be criminally prosecuted. 

The police raid that seized documents form Danneels residence was pronounced illegal and the documents cannot be used in prosecutions.

No cleric in Belgium will be inconvenienced by an earthly court of law. The hierarchy are no doubt congratulating themselves on their cleverness in manipulating the situation. We shall see whether they can manipulate the Great Assizes.



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