In response to questions by commission members, Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard of Mechelen-Brussels, president of the Belgian bishops’ conference, said he feared the consequences of compensating victims, because payments could also be demanded for “unhappy children born via artificial insemination” or facing the “psychological impact” of being raised by same-sex couples.
He also said he favored a “solidarity fund” for abuse victims when courts were unable to establish “direct responsibility” by institutions and said the church would contribute to the fund “in the same way that it already intervenes for victims of natural catastrophes or for the poor.”
Toon Osaer, editor of the church’s Kerk en Leven weekly and spokesman for Cardinal Godfried Danneels, Archbishop Leonard’s predecessor, said all nine serving bishops had been asked to testify to the commission, and “each has done in his own name. Archbishop Leonard wasn’t representing the Belgian church at that moment, only himself.”
However, he added that the “vast majority of people” had been “quite scandalized” by the archbishop’s manner of speaking, especially in response to questions at the Dec. 22 hearing.