There are rumours that Bishop Roger Vangheluwe of Bruges has offered his resignation in relation to a case of sexual abuse. There are as yet no details or official confirmation of the case and the resignation. A family member of the bishop is said to have related the news to a press agency.
At noon today Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard of Malines-Brussels, Bishop Guy Harpigny of Tournai and Professor Peter Adriaenssens, chair of the committee investigating abuse claims in the Belgian Church, will hold a press conference.
Bishop Vangheluwe has been the head of the Bruges diocese since 1985.
EDIT (10:47): Belgian daily De Standaard reports that the resignation of a bishop was announced yesterday by the Belgian bishops’ conference, after which aforementioned family member identified Msgr. Vangheluwe as the bishop in question. The newspaper also says that Pope Benedict XVI is said to have already accepted the resignation.
EDIT (11:46): The press conference, due to start in less than fifteen minutes, can be watched here.
EDIT (12:25): Press conference revealed that Bishop Vangheluwe was himself guilty of abuse of a boy, in the time before he was appointed bishop. Archbishop Léonard was visibly emotional during the press conference, and statements from the spokesman of the Diocese of Bruges reflected similar feelings among the staff of the bishop.
I’ll make the statements of former Bishop Vangheluwe, Archbishop Léonard, Bishop Harpigny and spokesman Peter Rossel available in English in the course of the afternoon. You may already read the Dutch texts here.
In the meantime, let us pray for the victim and his family, that they may be helped on their way to recovery; for the Diocese of Bruges and the entire Belgian Church, that they may weather this storm and emerge stronger; and for Fr. Roger Vangheluwe, that he may be truly repentent for what he has done, and so receive the mercy of God.