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'Leaked recordings taken out of context'

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Here's an update I just added to the story about audio recordings of a meeting between Belgium Cardinal Danneels and a victim of sexual abuse by a bishop that was posted earlier today (See: Belgium cardinal tried to keep abuse victim quiet.) The update comes from Catholic News Service.

Cardinal Danneels's spokesman told Catholic News Service correspondent Jonathan Luxmoore that news reports on the recorded meeting have been interpreted out of context.

"There was no intention of any cover-up," Toon Osaer, spokesman for the cardinal, who retired in January as archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, told Catholic News Service Aug. 30.

"Seen from today's perspective, the cardinal realizes he was rather naive to think he could help the family in question reach a reconciliation," he said. "At that moment, however, the family didn't want to make public something they'd kept secret for 24 years."

Belgium's Flemish-language De Standaard and Het Nieuwsblad dailies published an alleged transcript of the cardinal's April meeting with relatives of the nephew of Bishop Roger Vangheluwe of Brugge. The unnamed nephew was abused by his uncle before and after the bishop's 1985 consecration.

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Osaer told CNS that Cardinal Danneels had not kept notes from the "informal private meeting" April 8 and could not verify the transcript's accuracy. He added that he believed the text was "broadly correct" but said the context had been "totally different" than newspapers currently claimed.

"This was a totally confidential meeting, and the family intended to keep it all within the family," the spokesman said. "This is why the cardinal tried to see if a reconciliation was possible. He asked the victim if Vangheluwe should resign immediately, pointing out that we would then have to provide an explanation for his departure. He said if the resignation could be left for another year, it would not be necessary to bring the family's internal affairs into the open."

Osaer told CNS that Cardinal Danneels had offered his advice because the family "disagreed sharply" over the best course of action.

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