Father François Houtart, an 85-year-old Belgian activist priest who served as a peritus at the Second Vatican Council, has admitted twice abusing his cousin in 1970. His cousin was then an eight-year-old boy.
Ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Malines-Brussels in 1949, Houtart taught at the Catholic University of Louvain from 1958 to 1990. As a peritus at Vatican II, he assisted Cardinal Leo Jozef Suenens and served as secretary of the subcommission that drafted the introduction to Gaudium et Spes, the pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world.
An international petition drive calling upon the Nobel Prize committee to award Houtart the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 has attracted thousands of signatures from 74 nations. In the midst of this effort, the sister of the abuse victim lodged a complaint with Church officials in Belgium, and the priest admitted the abuse.
Houtart, long known as a "Marxist Canon" (Le Figaro), has been a living symbol of a Belgian Liberal priesthood that helped shape Vatican II in all its aspects.