Belgium abuse charges ignored: retired priest

A retired priest in Belgium says he told church authorities years ago about allegations that the country's longest-serving bishop had sexually abused a boy, but the complaints were ignored.

A retired priest in Belgium said he told church authorities years ago about allegations that the country's longest-serving bishop had sexually abused a boy, but the complaints were ignored.

Rik Deville told Belgian media he reported the allegations to Godfried Danneels, then archbishop ,15 years ago after he learned of the claims from a confidant of the boy's family.

Roger Vangheluwe was forced to resign Friday after admitting he sexually abused the child while serving as pastor and then bishop of the Flemish city Bruges.

Deville told Flemish broadcaster VTM he received no response to the allegations he relayed.

Norbert Bethune, another priest who was dismissed after a doctrinal conflict with superiors, said he was stonewalled seven years ago after bringing similar allegations against Roger Vangheluwe, involving 30 other victims, to the attention of Daneels.

"[The archbishop] was so angry at us, so negative that he did not want to hear anything," Bethune told The Associated Press.

Danneels said through a spokesman he had no recollections of the allegations at the time.

When he resigned, Vangheluwe, 73, expressed sorrow in a letter for having abused the boy.

"The victim is still scarred mentally," he said.

The Catholic Church in Belgium has a weak record of cracking down on sexual abusers in its ranks.

In 2000 it created a panel to look into abuse complaints, which quickly clashed with the church leadership. The panel has accused the church of tardiness in compensating victims.

Hundreds of people have come forward in recent months, including in Pope Benedict XVI's native Germany, accusing priests of raping and abusing them while bishops and other church higher-ups turned a blind eye.

This week, the Vatican has said it would do everything in its power to bring justice to abusive priests and implement "effective measures" to protect children.

On Saturday, a Vatican spokesman said the Catholic church is capable of healing the wounds inflicted on it by the clerical sex abuse scandal, but that the time had come for "truth, transparency and credibility."

With files from The Associated Press