Between 2012 and 2017, Dignity Foundation paid out over 4.5 million euros in compensation to victims of sexual abuse within the Church, the president of the public utility organisation, Professor Manu Keirse, disclosed on Tuesday. In addition to these payouts, which amounted to 4,579,752 euros, “dioceses and the clergy may also have made payments, but I have no overview of that,” said Keirse, who also heads the Inter-diocesan Commission for the Protection of Children and Young People.
According to an updated report by the Bishops and Major Superiors of Belgium, released on Tuesday, 1,054 victims of sexual abuse have come forward since 2010, when Belgium’s bishops launched an appeal for them to do so. A total of 628 cases were reported to the Arbitration Centre, while the remaining 426 victims took theirs to one of the contact points created by the Church.
Most of the abuses (74%) occurred in Flanders, while 24% took place in French-speaking Belgium. “That probably stems from the fact that more priests are active with the youth in the north of the country,” Manu Keirse explained.
In 83% of the cases, the victims were more than 40 years old when they reported the facts and 35% were over 60.
At the time of the reported abuses, most of which occurred over 28 years ago, 73% of the victims were between 10 and 18 years of age, while 19% were less than 10 years old.
The report showed further that 43% of the abuses were committed in schools and 28% within parishes.