International

Vatican Sanctions Belgian Priest

The Vatican says former Roman Catholic Belgian bishop Roger Vangheluwe can no longer perform the duties of a priest in public. Last year, the Brugge bishop admitted sexually abusing his nephew and resigned from his job. The AP says

Former Bishop Roger Vangheluwe i i

Former Bishop Roger Vangheluwe Peter Maenhoudt/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Peter Maenhoudt/AP
Former Bishop Roger Vangheluwe

Former Bishop Roger Vangheluwe

Peter Maenhoudt/AP

"The decision was the first known application of the Vatican's new sex abuse norms approved last year giving the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith jurisdiction to investigate and punish bishops and cardinals who abuse minors, with possible defrocking as the ultimate penalty."

Previously, the Holy See had announced only Vangheluwe would leave Belgium and seek psychological treatment, according to the Catholic News Reporter. Reuters says that after the case broke a year ago, a commission received 475 complaints of sexual abuse within the Belgian Church and anger soared over allegations of coverups.

Update at 12:25 p.m. ET. From Rome, NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports that:

"The Vatican's announcement was a clarification after Belgian bishops reported that Vangheluwe had only been sent out of the country for spiritual and psychological counseling."

Meanwhile, on Monday the U.S. Conference of Bishops found some Catholic dioceses are not as vigilant as they should about protecting children. NPR's Barbara Bradley-Hagerty told NPR's Newscast that investigators found new cases of abuse:

NPR's Barbara Bradley-Hagerty on diocese audits of priest sex abuse

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