Brussels: The former head of Belgium`s Roman
Catholic Church has acknowledged that he should not have held
a meeting with a victim of serial sexual abuse and suggested a
cover up until the offending bishop retired.
The April 8 meeting that retired Cardinal Godfried
Danneels held was secretly taped by the victim and the
conversation was published in two newspapers over the weekend.
Since the tapes` publication, Danneels, 77, has faced
fierce criticism for his suggestion that the sexual abuse be
kept secret and that the victim should consider forgiving the
bishop, his uncle, as part of seeking closure.
"He realises that the whole approach, as it was, was not
the right one," Danneels spokesman, Toon Osaer, told The
Associated Press today. Osaer said Danneels was unprepared for
the meeting. "It was improvisation."
Today, La Libre newspaper, long a staunch ally of the
church, joined the chorus of Danneels` critics.
In a commentary, it said Danneels` behaviour shows how
long "the law of silence" was "the only response of the
Catholic hierarchy" to sex abuse cases. "The absolute priority
remained the preservation of the image of the institution and
the honour of its members."