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Catholic church leader in Belgium offered to hush up sex abuse case against bishop

BRUSSELS (AP) — Roman Catholic Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Belgium offered to keep a sexual molestation case against a bishop secret until the bishop retired, an official said Saturday.

Toon Osaer, Danneels' spokesman, confirmed a report in Saturday's De Standaard newspaper about a secretly taped meeting that Danneels held on April 8 with Belgian Bishop Roger Vangheluwe and the bishop's sexual abuse victim.

Osaer told the VRT television and radio network that Danneels told the victim the case against Vangheluwe could be kept quiet until the bishop retired as scheduled a year later.

In the end, Vangheluwe resigned two weeks after the meeting, expressing sorrow for having abused the victim as a youngster for years, both while serving as a priest and a bishop.

Danneels retired as head of the Belgian Catholic church in January. But police later questioned him as a potential witness in the case and raided his home and office, confiscating documents and a personal computer.