Police question Belgian cardinal in child abuse probe

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06 July 2010


BRUSSELS — Police questioned the ex-head of Belgium’s Catholic Church, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, for over 10 hours Tuesday as part of a probe into allegations of priestly child abuse, his spokesman said. 

The 77-year-old cardinal entered the office of the federal judicial police in Brussels in the morning and left at around 19:45 pm, his spokesman Hans Geybels told AFP. 

Danneels has been accused by a retired priest of shielding predator priests when he headed the country’s Catholic Church from 1979 to 2009 but he has denied any cover-up. 

Late last month, police raided the Church’s headquarters, seized computer files from Danneels’s home and even searched a cathedral crypt in an operation that angered the Vatican. 

During police questioning, Danneels was confronted with the former head of a Belgian church-backed commission probing hundreds of reported cases of child abuse by priests. 

“I cannot and do not want to say anything on the contents of this confrontation. Justice must now do its work,” Peter Adriaenssens, a psychologist, told reporters after leaving the police building. 

“Regarding Cardinal Danneels’ state of mind, he is clearly in a state of shock,” he said. 

“It is very difficult for him to know that a good number of people thought that he knew and did nothing. He is surprised that such serious facts are being linked to him,” Adriaenssens said. 

The legality of last month’s raid has been questioned by lawyers for Danneels as well as the archbishop of Brussels-Mechelen, whose palace was also raided.

 They argue that it compromises the inviolability of the Vatican. 

Belgian Justice Minister Stefaan De Clerck, while upholding the independence of the judge handling the case, has criticised the manner in which the raid was conducted at the seat of the country’s Catholic Church. 

The Roman Catholic Church in Belgium has endured some of the worst of the worldwide paedophilia scandal to beset the Vatican. 

In April its longest-serving bishop, 73-year-old Roger Vangheluwe, resigned from his Bruges post after admitting sexually abusing a boy for years. 

According to retired priest Dirk Deville, hundreds of cases of sexual abuse had been signalled to Danneels going back to the 1990s. 

A victim of a paedophile priest in French-speaking Wallonia has also accused Danneels’s successor as the leader of Belgium’s Catholics, Andre-Joseph Leonard, of covering up an abuser and keeping him for five years at his post. 

In a bid to restore confidence within an increasingly sceptical flock, Belgium’s bishops came together in May to publicly beg forgiveness from victims both for the actions of paedophile priests and for the Church’s “silence.” 

Paedophile priest scandals and allegations of high-level cover-ups have surged again since last year across Europe, the United States and Brazil.

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1 Response to Police question Belgian cardinal in child abuse probe

  1. Cheryl Helena Thomson says:

    Belgian Cardinal & DUTROUX

    Reasonable suspicion now exists to link the former Archbishop of Brussels with the powerful players in upper strata of Belgian society, including the royal family’s heir to the throne, Prince Albert — these persons having long been implicated in the international marketing of snuff films and perhaps ritual human sacrifice. Is more involved here than pedophilia? I encourage those interested to do more research, starting with this first link:


    The Wikipedia article on Marc Dutroux describes the background of his 2004 trial, before he was sentenced to life imprisonment: “Throughout the trial, Dutroux continued to insist that he was part of a Europe-wide pedophile ring with accomplices among police officers, businessmen, doctors, and even high-level Belgian politicians.”

    Over 450 witnesses were called to testify. It is reported that Dutroux’s own mother pleaded with police for several years to investigate further, after his initial arrest and conviction for the rape of five children (1986-1989). He served only 3 years behind bars, on account of “good behavior.” Then, corruption and inefficient police procedures effectively resulted in a greater criminal cover-up and the subsequent murder of many innocent victims.


    Now the Belgian authorities have abundant evidence to show that former Archbishop, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, had an extraordinary interest in the case, to the extent he had in his possession reams of officially restricted police files, including photographic exhibits of the dead bodies.

    It will be interesting to see how widely this link between Danneels and Dutroux will be reported, and the timeframe. Pope Benedict XVI reacted strongly against the recent searches in Brussels.

    The Belgian people took to the streets en masse, 300,000 strong, in a massive protest in October 1996, two months after Dutroux’s later arrest, in which demands were made for reforms of Belgium’s police and justice system. This became known as “The White March.”

    The original judge in the Dutroux case was clearly crusading against the pedophile ring before he was removed.

    “On the witness stand, Jean-Marc Connerotte, the original judge of the case, broke down in tears when he described ‘the bullet-proof vehicles and armed guards needed to protect him against the shadowy figures determined to stop the full truth coming out. Never before in Belgium has an investigating judge at the service of the king been subjected to such pressure. We were told by police that [murder] contracts had been taken out against the magistrates.’ Connerotte testified that the investigation was seriously hampered by protection of suspects by people in the government.”

    It took another several years for the wheels of “justice” to turn.

    The question has been raised whether or not Catholic clergy are particularly targetted to seduce them into these kinds of crimes, which have Satanic overtones to be sure.


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