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Over 300 sex abuse complaints against Belgian Church
The Belgian Roman Catholic Church said yesterday that it had received more than 300 complaints about sexual abuse of minors last year. Three quarters of the 307 dossiers opened were from Flanders, and the majority of complainants were adults who had waited before coming forward after the Church fell into scandal over recent years and with compensation now an issue. Forty-six of the cases raised last year have gone forward for mediation, officials said. After similar scandals in the US, Ireland and Germany, Belgium was rocked in April 2010 with revelations that the then bishop of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe, had abused a nephew for 13 years. Vangheluwe’s subsequent decision to quit opened a floodgate of allegations, with one report revealing almost 500 cases of abuse in Catholic institutions since the 1950s, including 13 known suicides by victims. In September 2011 some 70 alleged victims filed a joint legal action against the Belgian Church and the Holy See, the first such class action suit in Belgium and the first involving the Vatican in Europe.