Unfortunately the allegations of pedophilia by Catholic priests continue to surface – this time in Belgium.
Belgium Authorities Ignore the Pope
June 30, 2010
The Vatican has been under enormous pressure as of late. Sexual abuse allegations coming this time out of Belgium, continue to haunt the Vatican and the Catholic church. The Vatican has called recent raids by Belgian police “an outrage,” as they rifled through private headquarters and even the crypts of leading church officials.
This past April, the bishop of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe, resigned his post after confessing that he indeed was responsible during the 1980s for the repeated sexual molestation of a boy. His admission was the first from a bishop of the European church. After the admission, an onslaught of similar grievances was brought forward from men who were boys at the time alleging that they too suffered under the hands of Belgian priests.
Since the allegations, Belgium police authorities have been going back and forth with the Vatican over who has more authority to investigate and bring to justice those who are guilty. Belgium declared its supremacy on the grounds that as a law enforcement entity they have the power to prosecute if necessary. Their decision is in part due to the way the Vatican has approached these matters in the past. The Vatican, although concerned about the debacle the sex scandals have created, still does not do enough to bring the guilty party to justice, preferring to play down the allegations. Thus the Belgian authorities have taken the matter into their own hands.
And to show that they are serious in their resolve to find answers to this latest sexual abuse probe involving the church, this past Thursday entire police forces stormed into the archbishop’s Belgium residence taking with them before they left documents, computers, DVDs and CDs. While they conducted their search, Belgian police officials held twelve bishops and an envoy from the Vatican sequestered into a room for nine hours after seizing their cell phones.
As the bishops were being detained, police found two crypts belonging to cardinals named as sexual abuse assailants but have since passed away. The crypts are on the grounds adjacent to the archbishop’s residence at St. Rumbold’s Cathedral in Mechlin, north Brussels. The police used tools to open the crypts to make sure that no hidden documents or any other evidence that might shed light on the cases were hidden inside. At the same time, police were carting off hundreds of files from another office belonging to Peter Adriaenssens in Leuven, east of Brussels. Adriaenssens, a child psychiatrist, was the head of a commission chosen by the church to gather information regarding sexual abuse committed by the Belgium clergy. Since the raids, Adriaenssen has dissolved the commission, claiming that the Belgian police only used his office to gain access to files that held sensitive information about sexual misconduct, the names of those abused and their abusers.
Despite cries of injustice ringing over Belgium from the Vatican, Belgium’s government is ignoring the papal protestations and is continuing to go forth with their investigations. The Vatican is nonetheless livid calling the raids “an unprecedented intrusion into church affairs.”
The Belgium judiciary police, although respecting the efforts by the church sanctioned commission to investigate sexual abuse allegations, remain adamant that only a justice system can put the wheels of prosecution into motion, not the clergy.