Belgian sexual abuse victims receive financial compensation

Victims of sexual abuse by priests in Belgium should be able to claim up to €25 000 in compensation from the Church, with assessments made by an independent panel, a parliamentary commission has concluded.

Karine Lalieux, president of the commission, said on Wednesday that money could never repair injury to victims.

“However, the money represents an acknowledgement of an abuse and its consequences,” she told a news conference reporting on the commission’s findings.

The proposal of a compensation tribunal is a response to complaints that some priests cannot now be prosecuted because their abuse of children took place so long ago.

Deep wounds
Hundreds of victims of abuse in the Belgian Roman Catholic Church came forward after the former bishop of Bruges admitted last year to abusing his nephew for years. Almost 500 people filed claims with an earlier commission set up by the Church but this was disbanded last year after police seized its documents.

The new tribunal would award compensation ranging from 2 500 to €25 000, depending on the severity of the abuse.

“That will never repair everything. The sufferings are very deep and the wounds are sometimes lifelong but at the same time, in making this gesture today, we really want to respond within our means to what has been asked of us,” said Guy Harpigny, a bishop who worked with the commission.

In the Netherlands, a report has proposed that abuse victims be able to claim as much as €100 000, while in Germany, the Catholic Church put forward a plan earlier this year to offer victims up to €5 000. — Reuters

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