On 8 April 2017, the National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Sexual Abuse in the Church was observed for the first time at the National Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Koekelberg, Brussels (Belgium).
This was an initiative of the Human Rights within the Church work group (Mensenrechten in de Kerk) and the Belgian bishops.
During the event, a new sculpture dedicated to sexual abuse victims was unveiled.
The bishops apologised for their faults on different levels:
- for the sexual abuse of the victims by Church members,
- for not listening to the victims,
- for not listening to the Human Rights within the Church working group, which at that time supported a number of victims, but experienced opposition from ecclesiastical authorities.
Afterwards, participants met in small groups to discuss related issues. A discussion group on parishioners as secondary victims had not been provided, but was established on the spot, and I was asked to lead it. It was interesting and we learned a lot!
Fr Patrick Degrieck