Beliefnet
Rod Dreher

Now we’re getting more information about why Belgian police launched that unprecedented raid on Belgian Catholic church properties:

Four days after a series of police raids of Catholic institutions in Belgium that drew sharp criticism from the pope, the reason for the unusually aggressive operation has emerged: a formal accusation that the church was hiding information on sexual abuse lodged by the former president of an internal church commission handling such cases.
The declaration to the police set off four raids in which the authorities seized hundreds of case files from the commission’s current leader, detained a group of bishops for more than nine hours and disturbed the tomb of a cardinal where construction work had recently been done. Investigators drilled into the tomb and lowered a camera, but found only the remains.
Investigators are now analyzing more than two truckloads of seized documents, many related to 475 complaints lodged with the sex-abuse commission after the resignation in April of a popular bishop who admitted that, early in his career, he had molested a boy.
The former head of the commission, Godelieve Halsberghe, said in an interview with a Flemish newspaper, Het Nieuwsblad, that she had gone to the authorities after receiving a call from a man who did not identify himself and warned her in French to “watch out” for herself and to secure the documents she held on about 30 cases she had handled during her tenure at the commission, from 2000 to 2008.
Ms. Halsberghe, now a retired magistrate, has long been critical of the church’s efforts in Belgium to confront its past. Alarmed by the phone call, she took the documents in her keeping to the authorities and warned them that the church might be hiding others. On Monday, she declined to accept calls.

Got that? A former Church insider, indeed the head of the Church’s sex abuse commission, received a threat and went to the police with her fears. Given the status of the accuser and the nature of her accusations, one can understand why Belgian authorities reacted as they did. And, as the Catholic journalist John Allen explains, the Dutroux case fallout has made Belgians especially on edge about child abuse cover-ups.

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus