**NEWS CONFERENCE WEDNESDAY 26 OCTOBER – 2 pm**

Clergy Sex Victims To Urge Brazilian Federal Authorities To Investigate Credibly Accused Belgian Priest And Help Save Brazilian Street Children


WHAT:

Holding signs, childhood photographs and relevant published articles with photographs WHEN: Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 2 PMWHERE: In front of the Brazilian Embassy to Belgium, Avenue Louise 350, 1150 Brussels

WHO: 

Activists for SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) and EPCAT Belgium (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography & Trafficking of Children for sexual purposes)

WHAT:

Members of SNAP and ECPAT will deliver a letter to the Brazilian embassy urging the Brazilian Federal authorities to take appropriate measures and order a thorough police investigation, to help save fragile children who are being looked after by a credibly accused Belgian priest.

Five Belgian men have filed a complaint against a priest and claim to have been sexually abused by him in their childhood, in Belgium in the 1970s and 1980s. The man was transferred several times by his superiors for this reason.

In 1989 he left for Brazil, where he opened, unsupervised, a shelter for Brazilian street children, for boys, in the poor north of Brazil, near Fortaleza. An area with a bad reputation, because well known for pedophile tourism.

The activists will remind the officials of the embassy of the commitment of former president Lula to this subject, when signing The Rio de Janeiro Declaration at the third World Congress against Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents.

One of the items in this declaration states ”We call on religious communities to reject, in the light of their consensus about the inherent dignity of every person, including children, all forms of violence against children including sexual exploitation of children and adolescents…”


Contact:

Lieve Halsberghe (SNAP Belgium Leader),

SNAPbelgium@gmail.com, cel +32 475 910 918




-------------- Letter -------------------------------


Mr Ambassador,


We have come here today to kindly, but firmly, ask you to urge the Brazilian Federal Police to carry out a thorough investigation into the crimes of a man who has been accused of sexual abuse of minors, both in your country and in Belgium.


Our organization SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) represents five Belgian adult men, ranging from 36 to 48, all claiming, separately from one another, to have been sexually assaulted when they were still innocent children by the priest, Jan V.D., a member of the order of the Priests of the Sacred Heart (SCJ).


The crimes they suffered in their childhood have caused extremely deep and lifelong trauma, not only with them, but also with their family members. We have been informed that father Jan was asked, by his superiors, to move out of the parish of Merksem by Antwerp (Belgium) in 1976, because of sexual abuse of minors. Instead of reporting the man to the police, the superiors of his order and the bishop of Antwerp, allowed him move to another parish in Deurne (also in Belgium), where he continues to work for twelve more years with children, and even organized youth summer camps.


In 1989 the man left for Brazil. After having worked in Rio de Janeiro for some years, he was asked to leave his post by his fellow priests. He himself claims that it was because he was “too social.” He then moved to the North and finally started a shelter for street children in Caucaia. Sitio esperança da criança is located in a remote area, far away from any social control.


The survivors in Belgium and their families have only one wish, that is that an end is made to these crimes. That no other child, nor Belgian nor Brazilian, should suffer for the rest of their remaining lives for the same abuse by the same abuser, or any other for that matter. We believe these horrendous crimes on defenceless children can no longer go unpunished. We believe that the people allowing these crimes to happen should be held accountable, because also that is criminal behaviour.


The Catholic Church still has a strong hold on our society; priests and bishops are being revered for the wrong reasons. They try very hard to make society believe the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church is something of the past. That is was the result of the turbulent 1960s. Well, in this case, like in many other cases, this does not reflect the thruth. It is a problem of the present. In this present, 2011, the survivors all over the world are standing up, stronger than ever and say : NO MORE.


“It is necessary to end impunity”, said former Brazilian president Lula da Silva in his keynote speech at the World conference III against Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents, in Rio de Janeiro on …… He also said: “We must stop the religious hypocrisy of not allowing important issues like this to be handled in the light of day.”


Indeed, it is time that issues like these are talked about. The survivors need to talk in order to heal and they need people who listen to them without judging; the families, who equally suffer from the abuse that happened to their loved ones, need to talk, and the whole society needs to talk about this, so that the truth, however horrendous and hard, is known and the victims are recognized.


Our children are the real true wealth of a nation. Please help us protect them.


Thank you….