Belgian bishops outline future plans

Archbishop Léonard, Bishop Harpigny and Bishop Bonny at this morning's press conference

In a press conference earlier today, Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard, of Malines-Brussels, together with Bishops Johan Bonny (Antwerp) and Guy Harpigny (Tournai), outlined the new plans of the Belgian bishops to deal with the ongoing abuse crisis. Since the Committee headed by Prof. Peter Adriaenssens stepped down in June, after all their files had been seized in an illegal police raid, the bishops have been working to revitalise their efforts the come clean with the horrors of the past decades and to offer recognition and healing to the victims.

A Dutch report on the press conference, together with a link to the press statement as read by Bishop Bonny, may be found here. A translation of that statement, which outlines the future plans, is available here.

Deetman commission clarifies agreements with Public Prosecutor

Following the resignation of the Adriaenssens commission in Belgium, which may be partly due to a lack of good agreements with the Public Prosecutor (although the commission itself claims otherwise), its Dutch equivalent, the Deetman commission, has issued a clarification of its agreements with the state. Here it is in translation:

In Belgium, on 24 July 2010, the police seized files from a more or less comparable commission which investigates sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in that country. The police acted in this on orders from the investigating judge involved.

This seizure may prompt the question of what agreements the Dutch investigating commission on sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church made with the Public Prosecutor. The Public Prosecutor leads investigations into punishable actions and prosecutes when that is reasonable.

In short the agreement is as follows. When the commission is informed of a fact that may be punishable and not subject to the statute of limitations, the commission will present it to the Public Prosecutor for investigation. The commission will do this at the slightest doubt. When the Public Prosecutor decides the fact is punishable, the commission will inform the victim. The Public Prosecutor asks the victim to consider prosecution.

Commission chairman Deetman made this agreement earlier this year with the College of Attorneys-General, the national management of the Public Prosecutor’s office.

Should the victim decide not to press charges, the commission will nonetheless ask the Church authorities to take suitable measures against the offender of sexual abuse. Deetman agreed with Church authorities that they will always take these measures in a possible situation.

These authorities also promised that they will share all the information required with the independent commission and will promote sharing of information by Church organisations not under their  direction.

Read the Dutch text here.