Daily Archives: September 15, 2010

Calling All Belgian Catholics


Remember that controversial post I mentioned a while back?
Well, it’s still sitting half written on the paper sleeve I began it on. I look at it and consider it from time to time, but it always boils down to my inner voice asking, “do I want to write this because I’m truly interested or because the topic touches on a tender spot that I’m trying not to let grow bitter?”
So rather than dive face first into that snakepit (for now), I’m going to take on a topic I feel perfectly fine about…criticizing Catholocism!


As I’m sureĀ  most of my Belgian readers (and probably some others among you) know, one of the better know bishops in Flanders, Roger Vangheluwe, resigned from his position on April 22 of this year, after admitting that he continuously molested his nephew while he was a priest and also after he’d been made bishop, shocking the Flemish community (even Piet, the atheist), since he had spoken against molestation in the Catholic church until as late as the day before he resigned.

Since his confession, Vangheluwe has been holed up in Westvleteren abbey while a Flemish investigator researched whether or not the Belgian church could be held culpable for covering up and therefore facilitating the instances of molestation in the church. The Catholic church and Pope Benedict voiced its outrage that Belgium’s justice system dared to try to investigate rather than leave the matter where it belonged, namely in the pedophilic hands of the church diocese. Irregardless, the investigation continued and a report was recently released stating that, according to the information gathered, this was not an isolated incident, but rather practically the norm and was indeed something structural within the church and was kept silent, despite the reports of victims.

Since the report was given on national television, Vangeluwhe has left Westvleteren and is now supposedly in Westmalle abby. In the meantime a former Belgian-gone-Canadian priest who returned to Belgium after being accused of molesting Inuit children in the ’80’s has been discovered by the Canadian justice system and in a recent interview a fellow monk laments that it’s a shame for the priest that this whole incident has stirred up his lurid past. Apparently the victims are more of an afterthought since the monks don’t know them.

So now we’ve finally gotten to the crux of my post: Catholic Belgians, how are you able to tolerate this kind of behavior from the church you believe in and the men who supposedly guide you spiritually and in worship? How do you find it acceptable that the church receives state funding and in return, openly covers up the abuse of children?

I mean, I come from a country of religious extremists so I don’t expect much from most people who claim loyalty to organized religion as far as the willingness to deviate from what is spoon fed to them in a sermon, but one of the things I’ve come to respect about most Belgians is rationality in the religio-political arena.

So what’s the story with you guys regarding this issue? Do the constantly growing number of rotten apples falling from the papal tree cause you to falter in supporting the church? If not, could you explain how or why this does or doesn’t effect your feelings regarding your faith?