Belgian Primate: “Zero tolerance for child abuse in the Church”

At the start of the Easter weekend VRT News spoke to the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Belgium, Archbishop Jozef De Kesel. One of the subject discussed during the interview was the issue of sexual abuse perpetrated by members of the clergy. Archbishop De Kesel is clear on this issue. The Belgian Primate told VRT News that the Roman Catholic Church in Belgium has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to the sexual abuse of children. The Judicial Authorities are informed as soon as new cases are reported. The issues of climate change and migration were also discussed in the interview.

Speaking about the cases of child sex abuse carried out by clergymen in Belgium, Archbishop De Kesel said "This has damaged our credibility. I am not saying that it is all over for us, we must stay alert”.

"But what we have now agreed is that if new cases emerge the Judicial Authorities should be informed straight away. There is zero tolerance”.  

While he was Bishop of Bruges (West Flanders) Archbishop De Kesel met a lot of victims.

“I can understand that for a lot of people enough was and is enough. I have heard things that I previously didn’t know existed. And serious abuse is something that damages someone for life. We need to go on but saying that it happened elsewhere too is irrelevant and can’t be used as an excuse”.  


Speaking about the issue of migration, Archbishop De Kesel said that he believes that the German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “Wir Schaffen das” (we can do it) with relation to migration has been misunderstood.

The Belgian Primate says that Mrs Merkel was talking about taking responsibility. “She didn’t mean that refugees should simply come, but rather that it was an issue that you couldn’t simply ignore”.   

Archbishop De Kesel believe in controlled migration. However, this doesn’t necessarily prevent a more generous migration policy being perused.

"This is a global issue. People that are really entitled to must come here, in a controlled fashion. However, it is the same with ecological and social problem: it will cost us something. We are all going to have to make do with a little less. 

Climate “Enormously important”

The Belgian Primate says that the issue of climate change is “tremendously important” as it is “about the future of our planet”.

"I support Pope Francis’ ideas on ecology. Here you feel the tension between the youth that, rightly, is taking to the streets, but there are also social issues, the yellow vest for example.   

“This is about how we live in our shared house”

The Belgian Primate added that the poor shouldn’t be the victims of measures taken to promote sustainable energy.  

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