Child abuser disappears from convent

Brussels - Former Catholic bishop and admitted paedophile Roger Vangheluwe on Sunday left the French convent where the Vatican had banished him for an undisclosed location, Belgian media reported.

The head of the convent of La Ferte-Imbault in France's Loire Valley had indicated on Saturday that he would leave shortly but could not say where he was going.

Vangheluwe last year became the first Catholic bishop to resign over sexual abuses he committed after admitting to abusing a nephew for 13 years.

The Vatican ordered him to seek "spiritual and psychological treatment" at La Ferte-Imbault and to disappear from view.

But the former bishop on Thursday told Belgian media he had abused another nephew for nearly a year, playing down the encounters by calling them "a kind of game".

The Vatican's forced retirement was "not a punishment, but a period of reflection," he said, pointing to many expressions of support, notably from religious communities.

The case plunged the Belgian Catholic Church anew into turmoil, with several bishops asking the Vatican to act quickly to punish Vangheluwe.

The church was rocked by revelations in September 2010 of nearly 500 cases of abuse by priests since the 1950s, including 13 victims who committed suicide.

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