Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Sunday, June 27, 2010


An interesting post (with some interesting comments) at dotCommonweal about the police raid of the Belgian church .....

Belgian probe of sex-abuse cover-up allegations
June 26, 2010, 12:09 pm
Posted by Paul Moses

The Vatican is stepping up its condemnation of an extraordinary raid by Belgian law enforcement authorities to search for evidence that clergy sexual abuse was covered up. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said that the detention of bishops for questioning smacked of communist governments’ practices. The Belgian police were also faulted by church authortieis for searching the graves of two archbishops in the cathedral crypt, apparently on a tip that documents were hidden in the tombs. “It looks like police were searching for the Da Vinci code,” Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard reportedly said.

Thursday’s search created these scenes: police with dogs sealed off the archbishop’s palace; investigators confiscated the personal computer of Cardinal Godfried Danneels; bishops were detained and questioned; a mountain of documents was seized from a church commission investigating 450 cases of alleged sexual abuse. Authorities said that they also raided St. Rumbold’s Cathedral, seat of the Mechelen-Brussels archdiocese, acting on an informant’s tip that documents were hidden there. (Nothing was found.)

According to news reports from Belgium, the search was based on allegations from several witnesses that church officials deliberately withheld information on sexual abuse. The search signals that prosecutors evidently suspect that the church’s investigative commission is holding back evidence from them – they seized all of the panel’s records. The head of the church commission, child psychiatrist and Professor Peter Adriaenssens, responds that the confiscated records include information meant to be confidential .....


Blogger Fran said...

Crystal, perhaps I am misunderstanding you here, so I beg for patience and clarification if I am.

Are you saying that the manner in which this was handled by the Belgian police was ok? I am unclear about that.

The Church is not above the law, absolutely not. And its behavior to the contrary has led us to this point in many ways.

However, the way in which the raid seems to have been handled and the opening of those tombs - I find it as appalling as the wall of silence.

The ends do not justify the means for me.

Your clarity will be most helpful - not looking for an argument. I am fine if we agree to disagree.

5:37 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Fran,

I don't know if the search/raid was justified (and maybe people's rights are different in Belgium than in the US?), but I'd guess the police had enough evidence to get a search warrant. From what I've read, the Belgium authorities didn't believe the church was being forthcoming with abuse info.

Also, from what I've read of the raid, people were kept in place, without the ability to communicate with others, and documents were seized - that part (except maybe for how long it took) sounds routine for police raiding with a search warrant, I think.

I was surprised about the tombs though. I read that holes had been drilled and fiberoptic cable put in to look inside for documents. Disturbing, But I think (someone correct me if I'm wrong) bodies are at times exhumed by court order in investigations in the US, so while it sounds creepy, I'm not sure it was intended to be especially disrespectful, though I could be wrong..

I should say that having been sexually abused as a kid by one of my srepfathers, I'm not very objective about sex abuse issues and I probably tend to see the point of view of the victims more than the accused, and I may be too harsh in my judgements. I do agree with you that the ends don't justify the means, and I understand if you see things differently from me.

7:09 PM  
Blogger Fran said...

Thank you Crystal. I was abused by my own father as a child, so I think I have some understanding of what you mean.

That said, and this is not meant to sound like anything other than how I am with it, I have become objective in a different way over many years. That is simply where I am at right now.

It is complicated. My concern was less over the holding for hours but more for the voracity, the way that the information that the outside adviser is using was also taken and the graves.

My own position is not to let anyone off the hook, but rather for justice. I know - easy from afar.

Peace to you and many prayers. Thank you for your candor.

7:15 PM  
Blogger crystal said...


Thanks for asking me about what I thought and fot telling me about your own experience. I do not doubt you've made a better adjustment to the past than I have - I'm still so angry and with no one around on which to vent it, I tend to project.

I have to read more about the raid - I don't have tv so missed any tv news of it and I've I just read a couple of news stories, so I'm not up on all the details. I can only think that the police had specific information leading them to believe there was something hidden in the tombs for them to be able to get a search warrant from a judge for such a thing, at least if Belgium is like the US. Otherwise, they would get their socks sued off, not to mention the bad press that will and has resulted.

It is all disturbing and I'm not saying it was ok or justified. Just, I guess, that I'd hope the church would wake upo and realize that sexual abuse and covering up sexual abuse is criminal behavior.

8:21 PM  
Blogger Fran said...

Crystal - I actually saw my comments again this morning and felt like I was insensitive.

We are all exactly where we are in the journey, so there is no judgment about how I perceive things and how you do.

If you ever wish to email me, please do so. I wish you peace always. My email is in my profile.

4:11 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Thanks, Fran :) If you ever want mine, it's

12:28 PM  
Blogger Deacon Denny said...

Hi Crystal --

I saw a news item on this incident as well, and my original reaction was similar to Fran's -- the bit about opening tombs seemed particularly crude. But I appreciated your link to the Commonweal post, because it included information that I had not seen earlier.

For instance, the post follows the train of thought that the Belgian police were searching for evidence of a cover-up, and quotes Brooklyn's Bishop DiMarzio, in referring to the US cases, that "the term `cover-up’ is inappropriate to describe the phenomena because in most instances the abuse was unknown and never reported," and that "knowing the facts will go a long way toward changing the perception inside and outside of the Church."

OK -- I'm all in favor of knowing the facts. Let's ALL have access to the facts. I'm not close enough to the Belgian situation to judge how responsive the Church has been there, but overall, being "transparent and responsive" is not something our Church has been noted for.

11:01 AM  
Blogger crystal said...


Since I wrote the post I've seen a couple of articles at NCR by John Allen that are helpful about why this happened ...

In Belgium, anti-pedophile priest rips 'silence and omissions' of bishops - John Allen NCR

Belgium a 'perfect storm' on sex abuse crisis

1:04 PM  
Blogger Fran said...

When I see my comments now, I see that I come off as a bit reactive.

I absolutely think that there should be more transparency, openness and so forth.

The tomb thing got me for whatever reason.

Thanks for those other links Crystal. Peace to you and to Deacon Denny too.

6:35 PM  
Blogger crystal said...


I come off as a bit reactive.

No, I don't think so. The tomb part is disturbing. Hopefully we'll eventually read why the police thought the tomb was a likely spot for eveidence, but even if it turns out they had a good reason, it still feels icky.

7:55 PM  

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