Former bishop Roger Vangheluwe dismissed from clergy by Pope Francis


Pope Francis has granted a request to dismiss the former bishop of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe, from the clerical state, the Apostolic Nunciature announced in a press release on Thursday. In recent months, Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo had urged the Vatican to strip Vangheluwe of his titles. The Pope is due to visit Belgium later this year.

Vangheluwe resigned in 2010 after admitting to sexually abusing his nephew, who was a minor at the time. New elements led the Pope to re-examine the case.

Informed of his dismissal, Vangheluwe asked to be allowed to live in a place of retreat, "without any further contact with the outside world, in order to dedicate himself to prayer and penance".

'Important for the victims'

In January, in a meeting with the Apostolic Nuncio, De Croo had reiterated his call for the Vatican to strip Vangheluwe of his title. Such a move would be "important for the victims", he wrote on X. He had already called on the church to face up to its moral responsibilities in a meeting with the nuncio in early October.

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


Former bishop Roger Vangheluwe, pictured in November 2008 © BELGA PHOTO KURT DESPLENTER

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