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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Thursday, June 24, 2010

Clergy sex victims blast head of Belgium church abuse panel

Statement by Peter Isely, Midwest Director of SNAP, 414 429 7259

Shame on Peter Adriaenssens, the head of a Belgian Catholic sex abuse panel, for criticizing today's raid by law enforcement on the Brussels church headquarters. It’s way too premature for anyone to even begin second-guessing police for their actions in trying to undercover child molesting clerics and complicit bishops.

Adrienssens should be praising and helping secular authorities who are finally taking action to safeguard vulnerable youngsters.

The AP reports that Adrienssens claims “there was no need to seize the documents of all 500 cases being looked into” by his committee. But Adrienssens is a psychiatrist, not a cop. He has no basis for this claim. It's the job of police to err on the side of gathering more evidence, not less.

Now is the time to protect kids, help police, and stay open-minded, not undermine the independent professionals in law enforcement who have the expertise, objectivity and resources to make a huge difference in this decades-old but still on-going cover up of horrific clergy sex crimes.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hCgu72HLMWUZHc-ob7rqCwPUC1PQ

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 22 years and have more than 9,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell)

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ilwMkMIluzUGFx6uQ4G2tBTLlq6gD9GHR3P00

Police raid offices, home of retired archbishop

By ROBERT WIELAARD (AP)

BRUSSELS — Police raided the home and former office of the recently retired archbishop of Belgium on Thursday, carrying off documents and a personal computer as part of an investigation into the sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests, officials said.

Police and prosecutors would not say if former Archbishop Godfried Danneels was suspected of abuse himself or simply had records pertaining to allegations against another person.

Separately, police seized the records of an independent panel investigating sexual abuse by priests, some 500 cases in all. The head of the panel called the raid a huge violation of the privacy of people — mostly men now in their 60s and 70s — who have lived with the shame of abuse.

The raids followed recent statements to police "that are related to the sexual abuse of children within the church," said Jean-Marc Meilleur, a spokesman for the Brussels prosecutor's office. He would not offer specifics on the case.

Police took documents, but did not question Danneels at his home in the city of Mechlin, north of Brussels, said Hans Geybels, the spokesman for the former archbishop.

"They did take away his computer," he said.

Geybels added Danneels was fully cooperating. "The cardinal believes justice must run its normal course. He has nothing against that," he said.

Armed with a search warrant, police entered the archbishop's office at 10 a.m. (0800GMT) just as the country's nine bishops were starting their monthly meeting with Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard, Danneels successor, who took over in January.

Also present was Archbishop Giacinto Berloco, the papal nuncio to Belgium and Luxembourg.

Officials said all were held for nine hours and — along with diocese staff — had to surrender their cell phones.

Danneels was a leading liberal voice in Europe's church before he retired in January.

But he returned to the limelight when, in late April, Belgium's longest-serving bishop, Roger Vangheluwe, resigned after admitting to having sexually abused a young boy during the time Danneels was archbishop.

The resignation led a former priest, Rik Deville, to say he warned Danneels at least 15 years ago that Vangheluwe had abused a boy. Danneels said in April, "I cannot remember such a discussion."

Meilleur said the search of Danneels home and office was unrelated to the Vangheluwe case. "This is a new case that came to us recently," he said.

The head of the sexual abuse investigation panel, child psychiatrist Peter Adriaenssens, criticized the raid, saying there was no need to seize the documents of all 500 cases being looked into by the committee.

Only 100 complainants were ready for their names to be revealed to justice authorities, he added.

The panel has been around for years, and had dealt with only around 30 cases of alleged abuse until the past year, when abuse cases by Catholic clergy began surfacing worldwide and its workload skyrocketed.

It has complained bitterly about lack of cooperation from the church in the past.

Vatican officials said that for the time being there would be no comment on the raids.

The sex abuse scandal has engulfed the church in Europe — and beyond — for months, with reports of abuse of in seminars, schools and other church-run institutions. Reports that priests have abused children or bishops have covered up for them have outraged the faithful.

The scandal has touched on Pope Benedict XVI's German homeland. This month, Benedict begged forgiveness from victims and promised to "do everything possible" to protect children.

The comments came during a Mass celebrated by 15,000 priests at St. Peter's Square marking the Vatican's Year of the Priest — a year marred by revelations of hundreds of new cases of clerical abuse in Europe, Latin America and elsewhere, cover-ups by bishops and evidence of long-standing Vatican inaction.

------------- EARLIER SNAP STATEMENT TODAY IS BELOW

For immediate release Thursday, June 24 - Statement by Barbara Dorris, Outreach Director for SNAP 314 862 7688

This raid is precisely what's needed, not just in Belgium but in other church offices across the globe. Law enforcement officials must stop giving the Catholic hierarchy a 'free pass' when it comes to clergy sex crimes and cover ups. Police and prosecutors need to step up, and promptly and thoroughly investigate allegations against predator priests and corrupt bishops, and use their full powers to gain access to and control over church records that likely document the crimes and cover ups.

Kids will be safer only when secular authorities stop giving excessive deference to church officials and start doing all that they can to catch, expose, prosecute and jail both child molesting clerics and their complicit colleagues and supervisors.

We call on all citizens of Belgium - Catholic and non-Catholic - to contact law enforcement with any information or suspicions they may have - however old, small, or seemingly insignificant - so that this can be an effective investigation that results in the imprisonment of those who hurt children and those who enable others to hurt children.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hCgu72HLMWUZHc-ob7rqCwPUC1PQ

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 22 years and have more than 9,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell)


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
www.snapnetwork.org
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