Bishop Lucas Van Looy declines cardinal honor from Pope Francis due to abuse

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An earlier model of this story stated the Diocese of Ghent didn’t intervene to cease an accused priest’s actions within the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Ghent. Bishop-Accountability says Bishop Lucas Van Looy notified civil authorities in 2014.

When Pope Francis in Could introduced his intention to create 21 new cardinals, one identify stood out to a gaggle of clerical-abuse advocates in Belgium: Lucas Van Looy. After dealing with weeks of stress about his file of dealing with abuse circumstances, the would-be cardinal has now requested Francis to not obtain the consideration – a extremely uncommon request that the pope has accepted.

The Belgian bishops’ convention stated Van Looy’s request was made to “stop the victims of such abuses from being damage once more.”

For a church badly bruised by years of abuse scandals, the episode confirmed the far-reaching repercussions that may come after a church chief is tied to the mishandling of circumstances. It additionally raises questions concerning the Vatican’s course of for inspecting the data of people chosen by Francis to grow to be cardinals – a place that suggests a lifetime of excellent service to the church.

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“All people in Belgium knew about it,” stated Lieve Halsberghe, an advocate for victims of clerical abuse within the nation. She emphasised that Van Looy’s request “didn’t come from his conscience. It got here as a result of there have been protests from a human rights group. ”

The Vatican didn’t present a press release of its personal on the matter, and a spokesman didn’t reply to a request for remark.

The Belgian bishops’ convention stated Francis’s preliminary determination to call Van Looy a cardinal had provoked “a lot optimistic response.” However there was additionally criticism, the convention stated“Of the truth that he didn’t at all times react energetically sufficient” in opposition to “abuses within the pastoral relationship” whereas serving because the bishop of Ghent from 2003 till 2019.

Van Looy had been one in every of 21 people Francis chosen for the consideration, a transfer that might be formalized – for the opposite 20 – throughout a consistory in August. Even had Van Looy been made a cardinal, he would have been unable to take part in any future conclave because of his age, 80. (Solely cardinals youthful than 80 may help to pick out the following pope.)

The Belgian bishop’s convention didn’t present particulars about any accusations of wrongdoing by Van Looy.

His identify has come up in a number of previous information accounts, nonetheless. He’s listed on the web site Bishop-Accountability.orga clearinghouse for clerical-abuse data, on a web page devoted to bishops who’ve mishandled circumstances. The positioning mentions a Belgian predator priest accused of abuse each within the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Ghent.

Van Looy was not main the diocese of Ghent when the accusations first arose, however after he turned bishop, the diocese despatched a Congolese sufferer $ 25,000 in 2005. He, nonetheless, didn’t step in to inform civil authorities concerning the priest’s ongoing actions – working at a nonprofit to assist orphans from the genocide in Rwanda – till 2014, Bishop-Accountability stated in a press release Friday.

Although Van Looy has personally spoken out concerning the cruelties of abuse, describing the “inhumane struggling” of victims, he has additionally admitted to not notifying justice authorities of six letters he had obtained pertaining to circumstances, based on a Belgian media account from 2010. Van Looy referred to as these letters “much less urgent” as a result of the accusations pertained to retired clergymen.

Van Looy is a part of the Salesians of Don Bosco non secular order. Belgium’s Salesians had been concerned in a scandal that resulted from a 2019 CNN investigation right into a Belgian priest, convicted of abuse in a Ghent courtroom, who was then despatched to the Central African Republic, the place he was accused of abuse once more.

Belgium has confronted a tsunami of damaging abuse-related revelations, lots of them effervescent to the floor in 2010, in what leaders described as some of the troublesome crises within the historical past of Belgium’s Catholic Church. or report launched in 2010 described a whole bunch of circumstances over 5 many years and famous that 13 victims had been pushed to take their very own lives within the wake of the trauma.

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