Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Belgian Police in Sex Abuse Probe Detain Bishops, Search HQ, Homes and Tombs

The National Catholic Reporter has some excellent coverage of a Belgian police action against sexual abuse stonewalling June 24th: bishops gathered for a scheduled meeting were detained in their assembly room, their cell phones and some documents seized, and their headquarters searched, along with some of their personal residences and even the tombs of two deceased cardinals.

The coverage describes the Vatican as officially shocked and outraged at the conduct of the Belgian authorities. But the article about that makes it clear that the actions came after several years of investigators being stonewalled by the bishops.

A separate analysis by John Allen Jr., NCR's Senior Correspondent, provides additional background on the decades of sexual abuse and church obstruction that led up to the police action.

Perhaps Belgium will be the first nation to shatter the fiction that the church and its officials are immune from prosecution as functionaries of the Vatican State--and the first to subject a few bishops to criminal prosecution for an international conspiracy to obstruct justice in several countries.

3 comments:

Colin Kerr said...

Hope you'll update this post with the Cardinal's vindication.

Gerald T Floyd said...

At least three Belgian cardinals were mentioned in the coverage linked to in my posting--not counting Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s Secretary of State. No one can know which cardinal you mean without a link to some coverage of "the Cardinal's vindication."

Gerald T Floyd said...

An article just posted on the website of the National Catholic Reporter says that Cardinal Godfried Danneels, former archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, "was cleared" after a 10-hour session with police.

A later sentence nuances that a bit: "So far all law enforcement cross-examinations of Danneels and searches through his computer and masses of seized documents have cleared him of all suspected criminal activity."

While at this point in time that's good news for Danneels, it does little to detract from the point that the hierarcy's stonewalling tactics are increasingly annoying secular prosecutors.

The NCR article is at http://ncronline.org/news/accountability/cultural-forces-work-belgian-scandal .