Bill Donahue said:
It looks as though the Belgian police took a page from the Gestapo playbook and executed it to the tee. The police detained the present bishops for over nine hours while they snooped high and low—even going so far as to drill into the tombs of two deceased cardinals—trying to get any thing they could to indict the Belgian Church.
Recently the Belgian bishops created a committee to investigate claims of priestly sexual abuse, but this mattered not a whit to the Belgian government. They barged into the offices anyway. While police do have the right to conduct a search, so long as it is warranted, this seizure smacks of an agenda."
From Bloomberg: The Vatican said it was indignant about a Belgian police raid of the graves of two archbishops in an investigation of suspected pedophiles among the clergy.
The Vatican voiced “astonishment over how the searches were carried out yesterday by Belgian judicial authorities and its indignation over the violation of the graves,” said a statement today by the office of the Secretary of State.
Belgian police raided the principal seat of the Roman Catholic Church in Belgium, the residence of the Archbishop of Malines in Mechelen, according to a statement released by the Belgian Bishops’ Conference. The police search lasted from 10:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., the statement said.
“No explanation was given, but all documents and mobile phones were confiscated and it was referred that nobody could leave the building,” the bishops’ statement said. “It was not a pleasant experience.”
Belgian’s longest-serving bishop, Roger Vangheluwe, resigned in April after admitting to sexually molesting a boy about two decades ago. He was the first senior Catholic official in Belgium to resign in a scandal that has implicated priests in nations including the U.S., Germany, Ireland and Italy. The graves of Cardinals Jozef-Ernest Van Roey and Leon-Joseph Suenens were searched yesterday by Belgian authorities.
Pope Benedict XVI, 83, on June 11 publicly asked for “forgiveness” from victims of sex-abuse crimes committed by Catholic priests and promised to do “everything possible” to shield children from pedophile clerics.
Jean-Marc Meilleur, spokesman for the Brussels prosecutor’s office, didn’t return a voice message left on his mobile phone seeking comment.
This is deplorable and inexcusable!! I am all for getting to the truth of the priest sex abuse scandals but this is out of line, way over the top. This does smell like the police had an agenda, and it wasn't merely getting at the truth -- getting justice for those abused. The Belgian police clearly has a vendetta against the Catholic Church. This is inexcusable and Pope Benedict XVI has a right to be saddened over this and to call the raids "Surprising and deplorable".
From Zenit: Pope Benedict XVI sent this letter to Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard of Malines-Brussels:
In this sad moment I would like to express my particular nearness and solidarity with you, dear brother in the episcopate, and with all the bishops of the Church in Belgium, in the wake of the surprising and deplorable manner in which the searches were carried out in the cathedral of Malines and the place where the Belgian episcopate was gathered in a plenary session that, among other things, was also to have treated matters connected with the abuse of minors by members of the clergy.
Many times I myself have stressed that these grave deeds must be dealt with by the civil and canonical orders, with respect to their reciprocal specificity and autonomy. In this sense I desire that justice take its course, with a guarantee for the fundamental rights of persons and institutions, in respect to the victims, in recognition without prejudice of those who are committed to cooperate with it and in the rejection of all that casts a shadow on the noble work assigned to it.
Assuring that I accompany the journey of this Church daily in prayer, I very gladly convey my affectionate Apostolic Benediction.
There is a right way at getting at the truth regarding the priest sex abuse scandals and this isn't the right way to go about finding out the truth. The Belgian police vandalized or violated graves. That is just sacreligious. Let us keep all those who have been sexually abused in our thoughts and prayers.