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Belgian police grill Cardinal Danneels on sex-abuse cases

July 07, 2010

Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels was questioned by police for 10 hours on July 6, and emerged visibly shaken by the interrogation.

A spokesman for prosecutors said that the retired Archbishop of Brussels was asked about “at least 50” cases in which he was aware of the sexual abuse of children but did not report to authorities. The spokesman said that the cardinal was treated as a witness rather than a suspect, but added that could change.

Peter Adriaenssens, the chairman of an independent commission chartered by the Belgian bishops to investigate sex-abuse claims, reported that Cardinal Danneels was “clearly in a state of shock” after the questioning, which followed the surprise police raid on the headquarters of the Belgian hierarchy and the cardinal’s residence. “It is very difficult for him to know that good number of people thought that he knew and did nothing,” he said. The Adriaenssens committee resigned after the police raid, in which all of the committee’s files were confiscated.

The Belgian newspaper Het Laatse Nieuws added a sensational new element to the story with a report that police had found in the bishops’ files some material relating to Marc Dutroux, a notorious criminal who was convicted in 2004 for abducting, molesting, and murdering several children. The Belgian bishops’ conference said that the report—which prosecutors refused to confirm or deny—appeared to refer to a set of CD-ROMs about the Dutroux case that had been sent to the bishops as well as to leading politicians and journalists all over Belgium. The bishops’ conference added a protest that material from a secret police investigation had found its way into the press.


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  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Jul. 07, 2010 10:41 PM ET USA

    The instincts of many of the bishops was to see the accused priest as a brother (if close in age) or as a son (if not). These predator priests were in their "family" and as isolated as the bishops are from ordinary life, they viewed the victims as selfish whiners, exaggerators, or worse, liars, who threatened the reputation of the Church. They were unfortunate collateral damage.

  • Posted by: unum - Jul. 07, 2010 8:52 PM ET USA

    Why is it that Cardinals are able to turn a deaf ear to the cries of the abused and their families, and then are "shocked, shocked" when the public authorities finally act. There is ample evidence that Cardinal Danneels dragged his feet on responding to the cries of the abused, as did Cardinal Roger "Dodger" Mahoney in this country. These Church leaders, and their peers who did likewise, cost the Church its moral authority in this matter and compelled public officials to act.