Belgium Bishop Defrocked 14 YEARS after Admitting to Abuse

Pope Francis on Thursday defrocked a notorious Belgian bishop who admitted 14 years ago that he sexually abused his nephew but faced no Vatican punishment.

The case of Roger Vangheluwe, the emeritus bishop of Bruges, long ago became a symbol of the Catholic Church’s hypocrisy and dysfunction in dealing with cases of abuse. Not only was he allowed to quietly retire after the scandal broke in 2010, but his superior, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, was caught on tape asking one of his victims to keep his abuse secret until the bishop left office.

The Vatican announcement that Francis had laicized Vangheluwe came a few months before the pope is due to visit Belgium, where the case would have been an unwelcome and problematic distraction.

Vangheluwe, 87, shot to international infamy in 2010 amid disclosures he had sexually abused his young nephew for over a dozen years when he was a priest and later a bishop. He later admitted he also abused a second nephew. All along, he made light of his crimes, describing his abuse as “a little game” that didn’t involve “rough sex.”

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