Between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022, 86 reports of sexual abuse were made at the shelters of the Catholic Church. By way of comparison: in the period January 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021, i.e. in a year and a half, 59 reports were recorded. This is evident from the annual report ‘Sexual abuse of minors in the Catholic Church of Belgium’.

    In January 2012, ten shelters were set up for victims of sexual abuse in a pastoral relationship. Through the reception centers – one for each of the eight dioceses and two for the Flemish and French-speaking monastic orders – the Church wanted to achieve recognition of the victims and remedial measures for statute-barred facts. Since 2021, the ten reception points have been replaced by two common reception points.

    In the period 1 July 2021 – 30 June 2022, 86 new reports were registered, bringing the total number of reports since the establishment of the reception points to 717. In addition, in the past there were also 628 reports to the Center for Arbitration, which was of a temporary duration (2012-2015).

    “The number of reports is clearly more than in the period 2016-2017 where we only recorded 8 reports, in the period 2018-19 where we recorded 64 reports in a period of two years and in the period 1-1-2020-30- 6-2021 where we note 59 reports in a period of one and a half years,” the report said.

    There is no immediate explanation for the increasing number of reports of statute-barred facts. The recent revelations in France and some other countries and the media coverage of this may have been a necessary push for some, it sounds.

    Most perpetrators died

    All but two of the perpetrators are men, mainly priests or religious, but also pastoral appointees. About 64 percent of the perpetrators had already died at the time of the report. More than three quarters of the reports (76 percent) concern facts that occurred more than 30 years ago, 15 percent of the facts date from the last twenty years.

    The victims are mostly men (67 percent) and more often come from the Dutch-speaking area (58 percent). Eight out of ten victims were under the age of 18 at the time of the offenses and 16 percent even under the age of 10. In 40 cases (47 percent) the offenses occurred in a school and 20 (24 percent) in a parish. For a number of victims, the abuse occurred during their time as an altar boy, in the care sector or in the youth movement.

    Financial allowances

    Financial allowances ranging from 1,000 to 25,000 euros were paid to 28 people. Twelve files are currently not yet fully completed and thirteen files were referred to the judicial authorities because the statute of limitations was not clear or because the living perpetrator could still pose a risk.

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