The panel, made up of clergymen and chaired by a top Belgian child abuse expert, Peter Adriaenssens, was set up to allow confidential reporting of abuses, even in cases that have fallen outside of the statute of limitations and would no longer be punishable by the law. But late last week, magistrates conducting parallel investigations ordered police to raid the committee's offices, in which computers were seized along with documentation. The panel met Monday and decided to hand in their resignations, effective from Thursday, according to the reports.
"It is a very regrettable affair for the church but most of all for the victims," Eric De Beukelaer, spokesman for the head of Belgium's Catholic Church, Cardinal Andre-Joseph Leonard, told the Belga news agency.Now the privacy of the victims cannot be assured, according to the Church. Because ordinary magistrates will not know how to respect privacy?
Church authorities stressed that the privacy of victims could no longer be guaranteed once abuse cases are investigated by ordinary magistrates. The raid was prompted by complaints to the courts from a renegade priest that allegations of abuse were being hushed down. Investigators conducted the highly publicized search of Leonard's office and the home of his predecessor, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, that took place while all Belgian bishops were meeting with an envoy of Pope Benedict XVI.
The prelates were held in the room for several hours, their mobile phones taken off, and were all questioned. Meanwhile, police drilled through the gravestones of two former Belgian Archbishops in the hunt for hidden dossiers on child abuses, finding none.Video via aangirfan, who also notes -- coincidentally of course -- that a complaint was filed in Belgian court against 14 Israeli leaders for war crimes during Operation Cast Lead. Charges against Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni, Ehud Barak, Matan Vilnai... Pretty nervy of Belgium.
The panel which disbanded had been in place for over a decade, during which time it dealt with a total of 30 complaints, taking no discernible action in those cases. Eight weeks ago, Peter Adriaenssens, a child psychiatrist, took over chairing the panel. The panel has received nearly 500 complaints since he took over. The panel was to make a report to the Church in October. Adriaenssens said prosecutors launched the raid after he told them the flood of alleged victims had slowed. (source)
According to the BBC, the Vatican was taken completely by surprise and angered that the bishops were held incommunicado.
The police raid in Belgium last week which broke up a meeting of the country's Catholic Bishops - who were discussing how to deal with the paedophile priest crisis - took the Vatican by complete surprise. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state and Pope Benedict's number two, was furious when he heard how the police prevented the bishops from leaving the building where they had been meeting for nine hours. The police took away their mobile telephones to prevent them communicating with their staff, or with the Vatican.The Pope called the raid "deplorable," and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, described the detention of priests as "serious and unbelievable". (source)
Meanwhile, the US Supreme Court just rejected an appeal and cleared the way for the US Catholic Church to be sued for child sex abuse cases.
The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for St. Paul lawyer Jeff Anderson to sue Pope Benedict on behalf of sex-abuse victims when it refused Monday to hear the Vatican's appeal of an Oregon lawsuit. Anderson, who specializes in filing abuse suits against the Roman Catholic Church, called the decision "the biggest breakthrough in the movement's history."
...In declining to hear the case, the court upheld an appeals court ruling that the Vatican can be sued for sexual abuse if church officials knowingly reassign priests who have been accused of such acts in their previous parishes....
Anderson predicted that now he can eventually depose Pope Benedict. "I won't start with him; I'm going to work my way up," he said. "But this ruling gives me the ability to depose anybody within the organization who has knowledge about the events."Amazing, no? The nine Supreme Court justices refused to consider the church's claim that it enjoys "sovereign immunity" and is immune from prosecution. It's rather amazing that all nine justices would agree on anything, and yet here they are agreeing on such a huge matter, and six are (nominally) Catholic.
In another remarkable coincidence, another senior cardinal at the Vatican -- the so-called red Pope -- has come under investigation for fraud.
CARDINAL Crescenzio Sepe of Naples has gone on the offensive after being targeted in a wide-ranging corruption investigation into shady public works contracts and property deals involving Italian government officials.
Magistrates in the central Italian town of Perugia officially informed the cardinal over the weekend that he was being investigated for corruption after allegedly receiving kickbacks during the five years he headed the Vatican’s property-rich Congregation for Evangelisation (Propaganda Fide)....Propaganda Fide is considered one of the most powerful departments in the Vatican, especially because it owns and manages hundreds of properties in central Rome. They are worth an estimated €9 billion and bring in some €56m in rent each year. Propaganda’s prefect is commonly called “Il Papa Rosso” (“the red Pope”) because of this vast empire and also because his office – rather than the Congregation for Bishops – assists the Pope in appointing bishops for nearly 40 per cent of the Church’s 2,800-plus dioceses and ecclesiastical jurisdictions around the world.
So that actually overlaps, because the Supreme Court ruling opens the door for lawyers to depose "anyone within the organization who has knowledge about the events." And the red Pope would presumably fall into that category, since the red Pope assists the Pope in appointing bishops around the world.
Such bad timing for the Catholic Church!
Why are the Belgian people so cranky? They go after the church.... they have a problem with anti-semitism...
Well, the Belgian people endured the monster pedophile Marc Dutroux, so the Belgian people perhaps have had quite enough waiting around for people to get their acts together.
Peter Adriaenssens - expert in child abuse investigations and who worked actively on the monster of Marcinelle, Marc Dutroux, the Belgian worst nightmare - had been "shocked" by the searches, foreshadow his imminent resignation. He decided last night and sent via mail to his closest collaborators. "I could only do so only with a conviction that we wanted to hide things, cheat in some way, whereas I have made a point of honor to work in full transparency," he said today Adriaenssens, referring to the police raid.Also see:
Here, the bitter observation: "We simply served as a decoy."
ISGP - Beyond the Dutroux Affair.