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Belgian Church admits child abuse


Mon Sep 13, 2010 6:24PM
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Belgian church abuse involved children as young as two.
In its most recent reaction to hundreds of cases of child sexual abuse, the Belgian Roman Catholic Church says they “should never, never have happened.”

“The past months have been very difficult for the Church and for us. We are fully committed to tackling this problem in a new way,” Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard told a news conference on Monday.

“The report confronted us with something that should never, never have happened,” Leonard said, stressing that the church wished to “draw the lessons from past errors.”

Sex abuse scandals surfaced in Belgium last week with a Catholic Church-backed commission reporting 475 new cases committed in the 1950s through the late 1980s by Catholic clergy, religious teachers, and church workers.

Child psychiatrist Peter Adriaenssens, who has been asked by the Catholic Church to look into abuse cases, says hundreds of sex abuse victims have come forward with harrowing accounts of their molestation by the clergy.

Reports say the abuses led to at least 13 suicides and affected children as young as two.

The Belgian Catholic Church says it is planning to establish a center for recognition, healing and reconciliation for victims.

“It causes us pain. Coming out of such a crisis is not easy,” said Leonard.

Critics charge that the Church has failed to act against errant priests and that it has ignored the abuses.

RB/AKM/MB

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