Belgian PM urges Vatican to strip abusive bishop of title

Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo reiterated his call for the Vatican to strip bishop Roger Vangheluwe of his title in a meeting with the Apostolic Nuncio on Monday. Vangheluwe confessed in 2010 that he had abused a minor for years. 

Stripping Vangheluwe of his title is "important for the victims", De Croo said on X after the meeting. De Croo had already called on the church to face up to its moral responsibilities in a conversation with the nuncio in early October. 

The church's handling of abusive clergy has recently come under renewed scrutiny in Belgium in response to Godvergeten (Godforsaken), a Flemish TV series about sexual abuse in the church that aired in late 2023. 

The series, which included testimonies from abuse victims, prompted a wave of people to have their names struck off the church's baptismal register.

Vangheluwe resigned as bishop of Bruges in 2010 after confessing to abusing his underage cousin for years. He did, however, retain his title as a bishop. Vangheluwe, now 87, currently lives in seclusion in an abbey in France. 

In September 2023, the bishop of Antwerp, Johan Bonny, asked Vangheluwe to renounce his titles during a visit. Vangheluwe responded by sending a letter to the Pope, the contents of which are not known.

De Croo met with Nuncio Franco Coppola on Monday to discuss the planned visit of Pope Francis to Belgium. The exact date of the Pope's visit is not yet known, nor is the content of the programme. 


#FlandersNewsService | Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo © BELGA PHOTO JAMES ARTHUR GEKIERE

Related news

Website preview
Pope's planned visit to Belgium provokes mixed reactions
Pope Francis's visit to Belgium and KU Leuven in 2024 will allow dialogue on various social issues, according to the university's rector, Luc Sels. Meanwhile, Justice minister Paul Van Tigchelt and Archbishop Luc Terlinden have urged the Vatican to respond to the request to strip former Bishop of Bruges Roger Vangheluwe of his episcopal title.
Website preview
Flemish Parliament plans special sexual abuse committee to investigate misconduct
The Flemish parliament will vote on Wednesday to set up a special commission on sexual abuse in the church. Opposition party Groen had initially insisted on an investigative committee, but a special commission will handle the inquiry. These terms were agreed on Monday in the Extended Bureau, the political body of the parliament.
Website preview
Brothers of Charity apologise for sexual abuse in Belgium
The NGO Organisation Brothers of Charity has apologised for any sexual abuse in the past in response to a documentary series highlighting church sexual abuse in Belgium.

Get updates in your mailbox

By clicking "Subscribe" I confirm I have read and agree to the Privacy Policy.


Belga News Agency delivers dependable, rapid and high-quality information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from Belgium and abroad to all Belgian media. The information covers all sectors, from politics, economics and finance to social affairs, sports and culture, not to mention entertainment and lifestyle.

Every day, our journalists and press photographers produce hundreds of photos and news stories, dozens of online information items, plus audio and video bulletins, all in both national languages. Since the end of March 2022 English has been added as a language.

For public institutions, businesses and various organisations that need reliable information, Belga News Agency also offers a comprehensive range of corporate services to meet all their communication needs.


Arduinkaai 29 1000 Brussels