Monday, June 28, 2010


So what is one to think of these raids in Belgium? I don't know anything about the law in that country. Maybe raids of this sort are not uncommon. Is it legal to hold people without charge while offices are raided and evidence gathered? Is there any proscription against drilling into tombs or similar methods? I don't know.

The one thing that I am relatively sure of, however, is that if the Church had, from the beginning, been willing to cooperate with authorities, not just in countries like Belgium, but everywhere there have been allegations of sexual abuse, these raids probably wouldn't occur. The fact of the matter is that the Church has gone out of its way to make life difficult for anyone trying to get to the bottom of this. Instead of opening the books and cooperating it has closed ranks and deflected criticism, counter-suing and using the courts to hide the truth.

We all know that sins were committed, laws broken and lives ruined. The Church needs to confess its sins openly, which it his in some cases, and then, as an act of penance, throw open the records and let the guilty be punished. It is doing more harm than good by trying to hide behind claims of protecting the innocent or maintaining confidentiality of the abused.

Get this over with and move on. This is what the Church tells the faithful all the time when it teaches about the sacrament of confession. The fact that it refuses to follow its own teaching casts doubt where none should exist.

"Pope Benedict denounced on Sunday as "surprising and deplorable" raids by Belgian police on Church offices and the home of a cardinal this week during an investigation into pedophilia by Roman Catholic priests.

In a letter to the head of the Belgian bishops conference, Benedict expressed his "solidarity" after Thursday's search of two Church offices and the home of a former archbishop, during which computers and files were removed and at least one tomb was opened.

Belgium's bishops, who were holding a meeting at the time of the raids, were kept incommunicado for nine hours while the searches were conducted.

"At this sad time, I wish to express ... my closeness and solidarity for the surprising and deplorable ways in which the searches were carried out," the pope said in his message.

"I hope that justice will follow its course while guaranteeing the rights of individuals and institutions, respecting the victims, (and) acknowledging those who undertake to collaborate," Benedict added.

The Vatican protested to Belgium on Friday, expressing "shock" at the way the raids were carried out and "indignation" at what it said was the violation of tombs."

"The Vatican has stepped up its criticism of raids by Belgian police investigating alleged child sex abuse, calling the detention of priests "serious and unbelievable".

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, said "there are no precedents, not even under the old communist regimes".

He claimed the priests were held for nine hours without eating or drinking.

Several buildings of the Belgium Church were searched on Thursday.

Bishops holding a meeting there were barred from leaving the premises for several hours.

"It was sequestration, a serious and unbelievable act," said Cardinal Bertone.

Police in Leuven seized nearly 500 files and a computer from the offices of a Church commission investigating allegations of sex abuse.

They also searched the Church's headquarters, the Brussels archdiocese in Mechelen, north of the Belgian capital.

Prosecutors have said the raids were over alleged "abuse of minors committed by a certain number of Church figures".

On Friday, the Vatican voiced "astonishment" at how the raids have been carried out, saying police had drilled holes in two archbishops' tombs.

The Vatican said the raids had led to the "violation of confidentiality of precisely those victims for whom the raids were carried out".

The Vatican has summoned the Belgian ambassador to the Holy See to voice their anger at the incident.

The Catholic Church in Belgium has apologised for its silence on abuse cases in the past."

"Police officers raided the St Rambouts Cathedral in the town of Mechelen, north of Brussels, on Thursday acting on allegations that a cache of files concerning a sex abuse cover up was hidden in the crypt.

A Church spokesman confirmed that police officers opened the tomb of Leo Jozef Suenens, Belgian prelate between 1961 and 1979 and the grave of Jozef-Ernest van Roey, who was his predecessor as head of the Catholic Chrurh in Belgium from 1926 until his death in 1961.

"The tombs of Cardinals Suenens and Van Roey were drilled and a camera was pushed into them apparently to see whether there were any hidden documents," said Father Eric De Beukelaer, spokesman for the cathedral."

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  1. Wasn't Belgium the unofficial international center for liberal progressive Catholic theology for decades?

    I am therefore unsurprised by the State's actions, however unjustified. The Lord prunes away the dead and dying branches and uses even King Nebuchadnezzer to do it.

  2. It is kind'a cool how the enemies of the Church, with evil intent, are doing the good work needed to strengthen her over the long term.

    I wonder how they can't see it. I'm not surprised they can't, just often amazed.

    I wonder if the Church leadership understands this and if they are letting things take their natural course? Letting someone else do the dirty work, as it were.