Belgian archbishop wants mercy for elderly abusers

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28 October 2010

The head of the Belgian Catholic church, recently hit by a major child abuse scandal, on Wednesday called for mercy for elderly priests facing such allegations.

Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard, a conservative close to Pope Benedict XVI who has headed the Belgian church since January, said retired priests should be spared what could be tantamount to “a sort of vengeance.”

Priests who abused children in their care, he told RTBF television, “must obviously be conscious of what happened in their lives, but if they’re no longer working, if they have no responsibilities, I’m not sure that exercising a sort of vengeance that will have no concrete result is humane.”

Asked whether it was a good thing to punish abusers, he said “If they’re still active, certainly.”

“But do they (the victims) really want an 85-year-old priest, all of a sudden, pilloried in public?”

The church has been reeling from a pedophile scandal after a church commission last month revealed nearly 500 cases of abuse by priests since the 1950s, including 13 victims who committed suicide.

The archbishop caused an uproar earlier this month when he said AIDS was “a sort of intrinsic justice.”

Responding to the furore he said: “All I’m saying is that sometimes there are consequences linked to our actions.” He went on to explain that heavy smokers could expect possible lung cancer and that drinking a bottle of whisky a day could harm the liver.

3 Responses to Belgian archbishop wants mercy for elderly abusers

  1. Sylvia says:

    Small wonder we have problems delaing with clerical molesters.

    “Sometimes there are consequences linked to our actions.” Indeed there are, and not an iota less so for clerical molesters who have masqueraded as wolves in sheep’s clothing for their entire priesthood while blithely raping the souls of the flock.

    Justice. Justice is not venegeance. Those abused were sentenced by their molesters to lives of of confusion, turmoil and/or anguish which, to varying degrees, they will carry to their graves.

    The fact that a clerical molester’s deception of the flock, betrayal of God and Church, and predatory crimes becomes known publicly only in old age should not evoke sympathy and false compassion.

    This is pathetic.

  2. ValleyGirl says:

    Let’s be clear, yes, if there is a single breathe left in a molester’s lung, that breathe should be taken in a prison cell.

    There was no mercy shown to the victims who received their lifetime sentence a very long time ago.

  3. Michel B. says:

    Most everyone wants mercy and attonemnt for youthful victims, and bishops should be quiet and get to the job of stopping pedophiles from targeting the children in their parishes rather than figuring out a way to keep them in service, the gawl of such statements, totally thoughtless and self-serving without consideration for the crisis they cause and have caused in communities, homes, families and childrens hearts and lives. I understand that this bishop has decided to keep his trap shut until december…. given his statements about aids and this last stupid comment the world could do without his commentary for sure. I am sure Christ would treat this as when he came into the temple full of money changers and HE would be pissed !

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