Belgium's Catholic Church offers 'maximum availability' to sex abuse victims


In a move seeking to restore public trust the head of Belgium's Catholic Church said Monday it would offer "maximum availability" to victims of sexual abuse by priests or church workers.


After reflective weekend following a Commission on Church-related Sexual Abuse Complaints’ report published Friday, Cardinal Andre-Joseph Leonard told a press conference "we want to learn the lessons of the errors of the past”.

The report, set up by the Catholic Church and headed by independent child psychiatrist Peter Adriaenssens, said it had investigated 475 complaints between January and June this year. Thirteen abuse cases were linked to suicides.

“We want to commit to maximum availability to victims," Leonard said following admissions by a bishop that he had paid a victim and amid allegations of a church cover-up.

The reflections and conclusions contained in the report [on sexual abuse in the church] will be taken on board," he said.

Leonard reiterated his call on guilty priests and church workers to confess, saying earlier pleas had fallen on deaf ears.

The Belgian church said it wanted to create a centre for "recognition, reconciliation and healing" but that given the scale of the challenge, it would not be ready before late December.

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