Brussels archbishop 'shocked' by Vangheluwe's revelations

by Dennis Coday

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John Dick is a Belgium-based academic who sometimes contributes to NCR. He has been busy writing for us this year as the clergy sex abuse scandal exploded like mold spore and spread throughout Belgium.

Dick's latest piece is about the incendiary television interview that former bishop Roger Vangheluwe did for Flemish TV last week. See it here: Belgian bishop insists he is not a pedophile.

Dick was also busy for us this weekend. Here's a short story he sent today:

Louvain, Belgium -- Throughout this past Holy Week, as more sexual abuse revelations by Bishop Roger Vangheluwe were revealed, Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard said that he would have no comments until after Easter.

Easter Sunday, however, was media day for Léonard.

Léonard spoke out for the first time on Easter Sunday during his homily in the Brussels cathedral. There he called the televised interview with Vangheluwe "shocking" but said he would not go into the matter in his homily.

Following the Easter "high" Mass as it is still known in Belgium, the archbishop told Flemish TV reporters he was shocked by the interview and by the timing. Vangheluwe gave the interview right after the Vatican had told him to keep quiet. Léonard was not mild in his criticism of Vangheluwe.

He said he was surprised how Vangheluwe had "minimized" his sexual abuse of young people and he was taken back by Vangheluwe's body language during the interview. "He spoke like someone on vacation," said Léonard.

In an Easter Sunday afternoon interview with the Belgian French language TV, Archbishop Léonard said he found it absolutely inappropriate that Roger Vangheluwe had allowed himself to be ordained bishop "with such bodies [i.e., skeletons] in his closet."

Also on Easter Sunday afternoon another Léonard interview was sent out on Flemish radio. In that interview, the Archbishop of Malines-Brussels touched on the Vangheluwe issue but spent more time defending himself and his own opposition to homosexuality.

"If I speak Dutch," he said, "I must respect the rules of that language. … And if love is expressed sexually, one must respect the rules of that language. That language is the complementarity of man and women. … Truth is truth!"

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John Dick has a book due to appear in 2012, a biography of Archbishop Jean Jadot, apostolic delegate to the United States from 1973 to 1980.

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