Again more sexual abuse cases reported within Belgian Catholic Church
Between 1 July 2021 and 30 June 2022, the reception centres of the Belgian Catholic Church received 86 reports of sexual abuse. This is more than in the period from 1 January 2020 to 30 June 2021, when 59 reports were received. This is according to the annual report 'Sexual abuse of minors in the Catholic Church of Belgium'.
In 2012, the Belgian Catholic Church established ten shelters for victims of sexual abuse within the Church, one for each of the eight dioceses and two for the Flemish and French-speaking monastic orders. In doing so, it wanted to recognise victims and give reparation for acts that had lapsed. Since 2021, the ten reception points have been replaced by two joint reception points, which registered 86 new reports from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022.
This brings the total number of reports to 717. In the past, there were also 628 reports at the Centre for Arbitration, which operated from 2012 to 2015. While only eight reports were received during 2016-2017, two years later (2018-2019), there were 64. Between January 2020 and June 2021, shelters received 59 reports.
Now there are 86, which is a notable increase. A possible explanation could be found abroad. For instance, in the summer of 2021, a striking number of child abuse were reported within the Polish Church. Later that year, an investigation by El País into child abuse within the Spanish Church yielded more than a thousand reports of victims. The newspaper handed the investigation over to the Vatican. France and Italy have also recently received numerous reports of victims.
As for Belgium, in most cases, the perpetrators are men, primarily priests or religious. About 64 per cent of perpetrators had already died at the time of reporting. More than three-quarters of the reports relate to crimes committed more than 30 years ago. About 15 per cent relate to the past 20 years. The victims are mostly men and are more often from the Dutch-speaking region. Eight in ten victims were younger than 18 at the time of the offences, and 16 per cent were even younger than ten.
© Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP