Vatican investigates ex Bishop of Bruges

The Vatican in Rome intends to consider the case of the former Bishop of Bruges who admitted that he had been involved in child sex abuse. Pope Benedict XVI, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, has asked the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to examine the case centring on the West Flemish cleric Roger Vangheluwe.

The former Bishop of Bruges earlier admitted repeated sexual abuse of his nephew, who was a minor at the time.

In April Pope Benedict accepted the Bishop's resignation. For a while it seemed like the matter would end like that, but the Roman Catholic Church's failure to act in this case triggered a storm of indignation among Catholics in Belgium.

On Friday night the Vatican announced that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the body that deals with the most serious offences in the Church of Rome, would after all consider this matter.

A spokesman for the Vatican said that the decision to involve the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had been taken "some weeks ago".

Pope Benedict accepted the Bishop of Bruges' resignation on 23 April 2010 following revelations that the churchman committed sexual abuse on a minor for several years. Amid a storm of indignation Roger Vangheluwe then sought refuge in the Abbey of Westvleteren renowned for the Trappist beer of the same name.

As incredulity about the Catholic Church's lax approach to the churchman's offences grew, the former Bishop of Bruges announced that he would leave the Abbey and go and contemplate in "a secret place". By this time several leading figures in the Roman Catholic Church had suggested that Roger Vangheluwe could not continue as a priest, but no action was taken.