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Belgian Catholic Church vows to compensate abuse victims
Belgium’s Roman Catholic Church promised Monday to compensate victims of paedophile priests following a child abuse scandal that has rocked the Church for the past year.
Bishops and heads of religious orders, accused for months of showing little compassion for the victims, deplored the abuses documented last year by a Church-backed commission revealing nearly 500 cases of sexual abuse.
"Recognising their moral responsibility and the expectations of society, the bishops and religious leaders pledge to ensure recognition of the victims and adopt measures to heal their suffering," the Church said in a statement.
The Church is following recommendations from a special parliament committee on priest abuse, which called in March for the creation of a panel that would decide on victim compensation.
Some 80 abuse victims are already mounting civil lawsuits against the Belgian Church and the Vatican, accusing religious authorities of negligence by turning a blind eye to the crimes committed by priests.
The scandal erupted in Belgium in April 2010 when the bishop of Bruges admitted abusing his nephew, leading to the creation of the commission that exposed a mountain of abuses committed by other priests since the 1950s.
Roger Vangheluwe, who resigned as bishop of Bruges last year was ordered by the Vatican to go into spiritual retreat in a religious community in France, but has since disappeared from view.