Belgian Cardinal Danneels condoned sex-abuse silence

Cardinal Godfried Danneels, file image
Image caption Cardinal Godfried Danneels was questioned as a witness in Belgium's sex-abuse inquiry

The former head of the Catholic Church in Belgium tried to stop a victim of sex abuse from going public with their story, Church officials have confirmed.

During a meeting in April, Cardinal Godfried Danneels advised the victim to delay a public statement until the bishop who abused him had retired.

Bishop Roger Vangheluwe, who was also at the meeting, admitted to the abuse in April and resigned.

The victim recorded the meeting, and released the tape to Belgian media.

On the tape, the cardinal tells the abuse victim: "It might be better to wait for a date in the next year, when he is due to resign.

"I don't know if there will be much to gain from making a lot of noise about this, neither for you nor for him."

Church spokesman Jurgen Mettepenningen confirmed that the transcripts were correct.

A spokesman for the cardinal, Toon Osaer, said there had been no attempt to cover up the meeting, and that the cardinal had openly discussed it in April.

Cardinal Danneels retired in January and has been questioned as a witness in an investigation into sexual abuse by the Church in Belgium.

Over the past year, allegations of abuse levelled against Catholic priests have surfaced in many countries.

There have also been accusations that Church authorities in Europe and North and South America failed to deal with cases openly or properly.

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