Sex abuse Priest not to take up post

The West Flemish Priest found guilty 5 years ago of sexually assaulting an underage teenage boy has decided not to take on the post of parish priest in the coastal resort of Middelkerke. The Bishop of Bruges Jozef De Kesel has apologised for having appointed the 40-year-old clergyman. Meanwhile, the Mayor of Middelkerke says that she is pleased with pleased with the Priest’s decision.

The Bruges Diocese’s Peter Rossel told journalists that “The Priest has informed the Bishop of Bruges that given the situation he cannot take on his appointment in Middelkerke. Understanding his situation, the Bishop has accepted this.

Monseigneur De Kesel realises that this appointment has hurt victims of sexual abuse. The Bishop would therefore like to take this opportunity to offer his sincere apologies.”

The priest’s appointment to the Middelkerke unleashed a storm of protest, not least from the Mayor of Middelkerke and her team of Aldermen. The Municipal Cabinet sent a letter to the Bruges Diocese asking for the Priest’s appointment to be revoked.

Although the Mayor of Middelkerke Janna Rommel-Opstaele (liberal) has not yet been officially informed of the Priest's decision not to take up his post, she told our mother site deredactie.be that she is pleased with the decision. “This will be a good thing for our community”, Ms Rommel-Opstaele said.