Belgium--Victims urge Francis to oust Brussels archbishop

For immediate release: Wednesday, May 6

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566

Today, Archbishop André-Joseph Leonard of Brussels is obligated to submit his resignation to Pope Francis. We hope he does so immediately and we hope Pope Francis accepts it immediately.

Last month, a court ordered Archbishop Leonard to pay €10,000 in damages to a child sex abuse victim, ruling that the Catholic official was responsible for a failure to act on abuse reports.

There is no reason for delay. Catholics in Brussels deserve a prelate who takes children’s safety more seriously than Archbishop Leonard has. Parents, police, prosecutors and parishioners would be reassured to see the pontiff replace Leonard quickly.

And Pope Francis should also publicly denounce Leonard. That’s what will make kids safer: when top Catholic officials find the courage to clearly, strongly and publicly criticize their colleagues who endanger children and protect predators.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell,, Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell,, Barbara Blaine (


Belgian archbishop's resignation will test Pope's policy on sex-abuse response

Catholic World News - May 05, 2015

The looming resignation of Belgium’s leading Catholic prelate will bring a new test for Pope Francis’ determination to hold prelates accountable for their handling of sex-abuse cases.

Archbishop André-Joseph Leonard of Brussels will celebrate his 75th birthday on May 6, and in accordance with the Code of Canon Law will be obliged to submit his resignation to Pope Francis. Less than two weeks ago, a Belgian court ordered the archbishop to pay €10,000 in damages to a sex-abuse victim, ruling that the prelate was responsible for a failure to take action on abuse complaints.

While the archbishop’s attorney said that he might appeal the court’s decision, the judgment added to heavy pressure on the Catholic hierarchy in Belgium. Archbishop Leonard’s predecessor in Brussels, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, had been charged with covering up evidence of sexual abuse; and in 2010 police had raided the offices of the bishops’ conference, looking for evidence of criminal negligence.

Although bishops are required to submit their resignations upon turning 75, the Pope is not required to accept those resignations, and many bishops continue to serve for months or even years.

Archbishop Leonard has said that when his retirement takes effect, he hopes to live out his days with the Fraternity of the Holy Apostles, a community he founded in 2013.

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