The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Belgian parliament backs report on church abuse; SNAP responds
Statement by Lieve Halsberghe, SNAP Leader +32 475 910 918 [email protected]
Compensation for the wounded is important but secondary. Protection of the vulnerable comes first. And still, we see very little real action being taken by church officials to safeguard kids at risk of being molested now by clergy.
Giving financial help to victims doesn't expose the truth, and the truth is what parents need and citizens deserve. It's crucial that deeply wounded men and women, who were assaulted as kids, have the opportunity to confront wrongdoers openly and use the court system to reveal secrets and educate others.
(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 10,000 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 SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected]), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected])
Posted on Wed, Mar. 30, 2011 03:32 PM
Belgian parliament backs report on church abuse
By RAF CASERT - Associated Press
Belgium's parliament on Wednesday called for an independent arbitration committee to deal with years of child abuse by Roman Catholic clergy and possible compensation for victims.
A special parliamentary committee unanimously approved a report, which also urges to extend the time for victims to come forward with their complaints to 15 years after adulthood instead of 10.
Last year, the church acknowledged widespread sexual abuse over half a century and pleaded for time to set up a system to punish all abusers and provide closure for victims.
After weeks of witness and expert testimony, the committee's report will be taken up by the full parliament next week. It is expected to receive the same widespread support as in the committee.
"We say two things to the church. You must recognize your moral responsibility toward these victims," said Karine Lalieux, chairwoman of the committee. "And if these victims demand recompense, an official recognition, we offer a process of arbitration to empower all the victims."
She said it would offer the church a way out of a spiral of relentless criticism that, even beyond the abuse, it remained cold, unhelpful and calculating in its stand toward hundreds of victims.
"The church will grow in stature if it takes part in these recommendations and agrees to this arbitration tribunal," Lalieux said.
Last year, an independent panel highlighted hundreds of accounts of molestation by Catholic clergy throughout the country over the past 50 years. It also highlighted claims by surviving family members that at least 13 victims committed suicide as a result of the abuse. Hundreds more victims complained about trauma that plagued them decades after the molestation.
The report said there was abuse in each sector of the church, especially at Catholic boarding schools, and throughout the nation. Its findings were at the basis of the parliamentary committee.
In a reaction, Roman Catholic church spokesman Toon Osaer told VRT network that "the bishops are willing to look for reasonable solutions to meet the requests of the victims."
He said it would be complicated to decide how the church could compensate victims because of the complicated structure of religious institutions.
A victims' group welcomed the conclusions of the committee.
"This report is a first step. It doesn't go all the way be we will try and help to make sure it is followed up and the situation for survivors is improved," Lieve Halsberghe, campaigner for the pressure group SNAP, said.
The church, once one of the most powerful institutions in Belgium, has been reeling since last April, when Bruges Bishop Roger Vangheluwe resigned after admitting to having sexually abused a nephew for years when he was a priest and bishop decades ago.
Posted on Wed, Mar. 30, 2011 03:32 PM
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests