Long overdue house cleaning

The bishop of Bruges,Roger Vangheluwe, has suddenly resigned over sexual abuse — he has confessed to abusing and harming a young man years ago. I’d be more impressed with his contrition if it hadn’t arisen after the media started making a lot of noise about the issue.

It seems there is a small wave of resignations sweeping through the high ranks of Catholicism.

The bishop’s resignation came just one day after church authorities in Germany said that Bishop Walter Mixa, one of the country’s most prominent and outspoken conservative clerics, had tendered his resignation to the pope after being accused of beating children decades ago.

On the same day, the Vatican said the pope had accepted the resignation of Bishop James Moriarty of Kildare and Leighlin, Ireland, under a code of canon law that allows a bishop to resign before the retirement age of 75 for a “grave reason” that makes him “unsuitable for the fulfillment of his office.”

Keep it up.


  1. https://me.yahoo.com/a/P4T6fadoouKk2AiT.0U67.LeNfZvhQ--#2709d says

    I won’t be satisfied (and maybe not even then) until Cardinal Law is shipped back to Boston to answer Grand Jury questions.

  2. Rorschach says

    The Mixa resignation is seen as some sort of ‘Bauernopfer”, there was no implication of child sexual abuse with him, rather physical punishment of children and financial irregularities, like using church money to buy wine.
    It’s not going to make the other allegations go away, and that’s a good thing.

  3. ambook says

    I’m waiting for how this is somehow the fault of lesbians or pro-choice activists or outspoken biology professors from the midwest…

  4. David Marjanović says


    “Pawn sacrifice” in a chess context. Gambit. Implications of scapegoating – he’s sacrificed for the good of the organization.

    Today a Maryland pastor was charged with sexually abusing a teen.

    “Pastor”? “Faith and Deliverance Church”? He’s not Catholic, is he?

  5. cervantes says

    Actually it won’t mean a thing until 100% of the Bishops resign and there is no more Catholic Church. Then the light of reason will shine more brightly in the world.

  6. ambook says

    Isn’t there a great scene in one of the Connections episodes about all the post-plague scandalous naughtiness that went on in Bruges and how that fueled the economic and technological resurgence of Renaissance Europe? Perhaps the naughtiness never really ended.

  7. alysonmiers says

    “Pastor”? “Faith and Deliverance Church”? He’s not Catholic, is he?

    Note to the RCC: child rapists can be found elsewhere, too, but that doesn’t let you off the hook.

  8. Ben Goren says

    Resignation, smegination.

    In civilized societies, admitted child rapists are arrested, tried, convicted (if the evidence supports a conviction), and then locked away from the rest of society.

    Shame on you, PZ, for commending them for deciding to go into early retirement. When these babyfuckers start handing themselves over to the police, then I’ll consider offering them some form of praise.



    EAC Memographer
    BAAWA Knight of Blasphemy
    “All but God can prove this sentence true.”

  9. Reginald Selkirk says

    i>It seems there is a small wave of resignations sweeping through the high ranks of Catholicism.

    Not high enough. I won’t be satisfied until God himself resigns, along with his BFF Pope Indulgence.

  10. Sili, The Unknown Virgin says

    “Pastor”? “Faith and Deliverance Church”? He’s not Catholic, is he?

    Does it matter? Child rape and abuse is always wrong no matter who does it.

    Try following “Youth Pastor Watch” and “Every Child Deserves a Mother and a Father” on Slog. Though I fear it’ll kill whatever faith you might have left in the human race.

  11. Azkyroth says

    On the same day, the Vatican said the pope had accepted the resignation of Bishop James Moriarty of Kildare

    I guess Holmes finally caught up to him.

  12. MAJeff, OM says

    I won’t be satisfied (and maybe not even then) until Cardinal Law is shipped back to Boston to answer Grand Jury questions


  13. Qwerty says

    Don’t know all the details, but the radio reported that a Minneapolis attorney is sueing the vatican.

  14. Cinnamonbite says

    So…what does retired mean, in that case? They’re just regular catholics and have to get a real job now? Doubt it. Locked away doing secretarial work in a monastery? Doubt it.
    Does a retired priest still have access to children?

  15. Ben Goren says

    I’m sorry, but this really gets to me.

    Vangheluwe admits to being a serial child rapist, with a career spanning years if not decades.

    And now, by way of apology, at the tender age of 73, he’s retiring two years early.


    Get real! Anybody else who was a serial rapist — let alone a serial child rapist — would be handcuffed quicker than you could say, “crimens sollicitationis,” and unlikely to ever see the light of day again. His name wouldn’t quite be as reviled as that of Ted Bundy, but it sure would be up there.

    People, this shit needs to stop.




    EAC Memographer
    BAAWA Knight of Blasphemy
    “All but God can prove this sentence true.”

  16. Steven Mading says

    So the penalty for being an protector of child rapists and a hinderer of the investigation thereof is… nothing at all, and the penalty for actually being the child rapist is…. early retirement?

    That’s it?

    No. Not enough.

  17. Ben Goren says

    It just occurred to me. This may well represent a new strategy by the Church: go through their secret files to find some of the most potentially explosive cases that have yet to come to light, and have the rapists make a big public splash by announcing their retirement and wringing their hands in remorse about the unpleasantness they might have been somehow involved in causing to come to happen.

    If the media is played just right, it will simultaneously serve to defuse some of those time bombs and help the church to paint itself as being the agents of reform.


    PZ, I’m really, really ashamed that you, of all people, would fall for something like this. I doubt Hitchens will, and I would have thought you were more closely tuned to his moral wavelength.

    But by painting this as a wholesome “house cleaning” you’re playing right into their hands.

    Shame, shame, and more shame.


    EAC Memographer
    BAAWA Knight of Blasphemy
    “All but God can prove this sentence true.”

  18. ursulamajor says

    “Some of you are going to have to take one for the team to protect me. We’re allowing early retirement.”
    ~Pope Rat

  19. Caine, Fleur du mal says

    It’s better than nothing, I’d prefer to see these men headed to court. I want this wave of resignations to keep right on going, all the way to the top.

  20. Kausik Datta says

    @David, #6:

    “Pastor”? “Faith and Deliverance Church”? He’s not Catholic, is he?

    I was struck by how easy it apparently is to set up a Christian church, gather a flock of sheeple, get tax benefits, and abuse children.

  21. Yakaru says

    Bishop Mixa initially denied mistreating children, but finished up admitting that yes indeed he had been beating orphans with fist, sticks and carpet beaters. He was also using orphaniage funds to buy wine, jewellery and god knows what else.

    Incredibly, here in Germany the government not only collects a “church tax” (it’s voluntary, at least) on behalf of the church, but also pays the wages of bishops. Mixa will get a lavish state pension and kinds of other perks.

  22. Circe of the Godless says

    Fucking wankers. They’re not sorry they did it, they’re just sorry they got caught.

  23. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    ambook #3

    I’m waiting for how this is somehow the fault of lesbians or pro-choice activists or outspoken biology professors from the midwest…

    You forgot one of the RCC’s favorite scapegoats, the Jews. The Catlick Church loves old-fashioned Jew hating.

  24. black-wolf72 says

    Yakaru #24,
    afaIk, Mixa admitted nothing more than maybe having committed a slap here or there. Since this alone confirmed that his earlier assertion of having committed no violence at all had been dishonest, he resigned to preserve the Church from the discussion and the uncomfortable position of keeping a liar in good standing. I don’t believe they would really accept a resignation on such relatively flimsy gounds, it proves to me that they know much more about Mixa’s abusive behavior and the financial irregularities than they’d ever admit in public. Anything they’ll not be forced to disclose in court will remain in their closed archives or shredded.

    We know that there are many, many more liars where he came from, but lying about the entire nature of reality is still not seen as anything worthy of public criticism. Except for those obnoxious atheists, who keep disturbing the peace with their uninformed nagging and their ignorance of things like proper epistemology, where anything anyone believes is knowledge, and any knowledge is tentative and therefore of equal standing as any article of faith.

    Seriously, the arena of public discourse simply doesn’t care about teaching the public about the not-so-well thought out and relatively ignorant Aristotelian/Aquinean views that shape the entire basis for so-called modern sophisticated theism – and why they have failed at least two centuries ago already. As long as that’s the case, any believer and cleric will get a free pass conflating mythology with history, personal preference with factual knowledge, and fairy tales with science.

  25. https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawl3TpOVyxxwCT5cVU3M80c_cpxoMBZmiOQ says

    Reading about Mixa’s resignation in the news totally made my day. He argued that early childcare, allowing women to resume working even with children, would degrade women to “birth-machines”; he also claimed that a secular society would be hell on earth, and finally argued that it’s the sexual revolution of the ’68ies has a partial fault in the abuse scandals. So you see: A total ass-hat.

    However, it came with a hair in the soup: The priests in his diocese and his fellow bishops only backed away from him when in addition to accusations of violence against children (not sexual, though) he also was accused of embezzlement of an orphanage’s funds.

    So only when church money enters the ground does the church react swiftly…

  26. christopherjslaby says

    I’m with Ben Goren on this one. I couldn’t care less about the official church status of these priests (and as most of us have pointed out by now, these people are clearly indicative of the catholic church and so it does make sense in many ways for them to officially remain as priests). The larger point is that this “apology” or whatever it is doesn’t mean anything. This guy gets to walk free; he has successfully circumvented the law and we cannot and should not stand for this. Those who commit crimes should be prosecuted. End of story.

  27. Crudely Wrott says

    At the risk of fouling the waters by way of The Unspeakable Law*, I give fair odds to a snowball effect being evidenced in the days to come. I’d like to use the phrase, “dropping like flies” but I’d better not.

    Perhaps these sudden admissions and resignations will cause something to gel in the minds of people on a very broad scale. That is, of course, that the Church is rotten to the core.

    A Crabby Appleton conclave of conniving caricatures continuously claiming collective innocence ’cause no one claims to be in charge.

    They didn’t close the hen house at dusk and they don’t know how the fox got in. Or what to do with it should it be caught. Just leave it to magic, they counsel. It’s always worked for the Church before, they devoutly dissemble. Fewer people are buying this line of crap, I think. Or, more people are just getting a handle on it what with the headlines and all.

    I’d like to think that something wonderful is going to happen. Something that will be just the first of a series of grand awakenings sweeping the globe and freeing people from their chains.

    Heh. Dream on, dreamer. Some hoped for future goal (unless you eat the cracker) may come to be where the Church is diminished to some hollow echo of its vain recollections. Only slowly, I think.

    Imagine trying to melt a glacier on purpose by next Wednesday.

    *Roughly, “No matter what you mention, if it’s a bad thing, it happens. If it’s a good thing, it goes away.

  28. Cath the Canberra Cook says

    ‘Tis, too late, they’ve already blamed the Jews. Also, the media, psychologists, feminism, demons, gays, secularism and the children themselves. “What next?” is the question that ambook and I ask. I’m betting on witches – that should play well in Africa.

  29. Griffintje says


    Here it says the higher authorities like the Cardinal Danneels were already informed of this specific abuse in the years ’90 and they did nothing at all with this information.

    It is unimagineable that the only penalty for these people is a public “apology”. Only for them I would hope something like “Hell” would exist, to see them being tortured like hell for eternity! Sadly though, there is no such thing… and immoral creatures like this get away too easy.

  30. pianomarc says

    Does anybody know why these despicable perverts are evading the law? Is it a written rule somewhere that ex-clergy are un-arrestable for these kinds of crimes? Surely its a case of popping round and slapping on the cuffs – why is it not being done?
    Does each case require an official complaint from a victim? That’s shitty stuff, its hard enough to live with in the first place without having to face your aggressor again years later and go through a second round of suffering. These pious fuckers need much, much more than a simple quiet retirement, they broke the rule of celibacy in their own church – surely there’s a penalty for that amongst their shit written in stone, they broke the law of the land (in whatever country) in abusing minors and continued to operate in blissful silence for years and years until now, telling those stupid enough to listen how to live THEIR lives, all the time knowing that they could have been screwing their kids……..

    Get the fuckers in court, give their victims a day in the sunshine, give them some chance to get the monkey off their backs and do the world a favour, dismantle the RCC and all its hideous opulence, share the money out where the RCC have done the most damage………they are no better than the drug barons in their spreading of misery and death so why not treat them as such.

  31. Muskiet says

    Are they turning themselves in with the police as well?
    Now THAT would be justice.