Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Court throws out child sex claim against Holy See

02 October 2013, 09:04

Ghent - A Belgian court on Tuesday rejected a rare attempt at a child sex class action suit against the Holy See filed in 2011 by 39 alleged victims of priests and church workers.

The court in Ghent said the Holy See, which represents the Pope and the Vatican government, "is considered to be a state protected by international law that cannot be judged by a foreign court".

Vatican lawyers had pleaded that line before the court, arguing the Holy See's immunity could not be questioned.

In what at the time was said to be the first suit in Europe against the Holy See, dozens of victims of a child sex scandal in the Belgian Catholic church summoned Catholic authorities to appear before the court for failing to stop the abuse.

"The Pope is the head of the Holy See," said lawyer Walter Van Steenbrugge in 2011. "He is the appointer and authority over the bishops, which means that he can be liable for their errors. In addition, he can be held liable for his own faults.

"He neglected to intervene himself and to give instructions, which meant that abuse was liable to continue and the damage was able to increase."

The suit was launched after revelations in 2010 of nearly 500 cases of abuse by priests and church workers since the 1950s, including 13 known suicides among victims.

But the Ghent court on Tuesday also threw out the class action suit, saying charges filed by one of the plaintiffs on behalf of all 39 failed to properly identify those alleged to have caused harm or pinpoint the harm they may have caused.

The bishops "thus do not know what is reproached them", the court said.

It said it was open to receiving new complaints from the remaining 38 individuals however.

The scandal in the Belgian church surfaced after revelations that the bishop of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe, had abused a nephew for 13 years.

He was exiled by the Vatican to a French monastery for spiritual reflection but while there confessed in an interview to abusing another nephew, and then went missing.

That development further angered victims of church sexual abuse.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
S Mbinya
What To Do If She Has A Boyfriend

Here are tips to help you get a girl who has a boyfriend: Read more...

Submitted by
George Vodongo
Kalonzo blasts DP Ruto for ‘grabb...

11 Kamba MPs declared their allegiance to Jubilee last month. Read more...

Submitted by
George Vodongo
President Uhuru Kenyatta pardons ...

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday released 7,000 petty offenders to create room in the prisons. Read more...

Submitted by
Ben Wangui
Why Mashujaa Day celebrations wer...

Find out why this year's Mashujaa Day celebrations were held in Machakos. Read more...

Submitted by
S Mbinya
Foods that burn belly fat fast

You can take your best foods and snacks and still be able to get rid of that pot belly. Read more...