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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Thursday, September 9, 2010

Belgian Catholic bishops get to hide evidence; SNAP responds

Statement by Barbara Dorris, SNAP Outreach Director, 314-862-7688

Sadly, we’ve seen this time and time again: allegedly caring shepherds acting like cold-hearted CEOS, exploiting legal technicalities to keep clergy sex crimes and cover ups covered up. Catholics, in Belgium and across the world, should be outraged that their generous donations are funding church defense lawyers who maneuver to hide evidence of horrific crimes against children.

We have absolutely no faith in the so-called church ‘report’ on abuse and cover up. The only way an accurate picture of this horrific, on-going crisis can emerge is through the independent professionals in law enforcement relying on their investigative powers and skills – not through the biased amateurs in church offices relying on the alleged honesty of men who ignored and concealed child sex crimes for decades.

We hope that Belgium police and prosecutors will now work harder than ever to investigate, charge, and convict those church employees who committed and enabled devastating crimes against kids, whether they are custodians or cardinals.

And despite this setback, we hope that Belgium victims, witnesses and whistleblowers will keep finding the courage and strength to come forward, get help, call police, expose wrongdoers, protect children and start healing.

(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 10,000 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), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Peter Isely (414-429-7259), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell)

http://news.ninemsn.com.au/world/7959113/belgian-court-bins-pedophile-evidence

Belgian court bins pedophile evidence
03:02 AEST Fri Sep 10 2010

Belgian judges have ruled invalid truckloads of evidence seized by police in summer raids probing pedophile scandals within the country's Catholic church.

An appeals court deemed the raids, on the church headquarters in Brussels and at the home of its former top cardinal, disproportionate, and ordered that the material - on hundreds of individual investigations conducted by an internal church commission - be returned, with prosecutors unable to use it.

The current archbishop, Andre-Joseph Leonard, said after the decision was made public: "It is in everyone's interests that the fundamental rules of law are respected."

He said he was "in no way opposed to a correctly run judicial investigation" and he was "satisfied that clarity has finally been shone on this affair".

The church commission is due to report on Friday on its findings into allegations going back decades, and is expected to shed some light on the depth of the scandal, with about 100 victims having agreed to have their stories told.

The swoops had drawn the anger of the Pope, with church officials indicating police had even opened tombs in the Mechelen cathedral and priests reporting they were denied sustenance over long hours.

They took place as Belgium's bishops were meeting with a Vatican emissary, and also saw computers and bishops' mobile telephones confiscated in an effort to uncover electronic evidence to support allegations of cover-ups.

Judges had already struck off from admissible evidence the fruits of a search the same day in June at the offices of the church commission, whose panel subsequently announced their resignation en masse.

After pedophile scandals struck the Catholic church in Ireland, the United States and Austria, Belgium was stunned in April when the bishop of Bruges was forced to resign. He admitted abusing his nephew over a period of years in the 1980s.

This week, the former church leader, Godfried Danneels, admitted he should have encouraged the Bruges bishop, Roger Vangheluwe, to resign, instead of acting to mediate between the priest, who admits to having paid his victim regular sums of money. Danneels has been accused by the Belgian media of mounting a cover-up.

http://www.expatica.com/be/news/belgian-news/belgian-court-rules-out-church-paedophile-raids-evidence_95216.html

09/09/2010

Belgian court rules out church paedophile raids evidence

Belgian judges ruled invalid on Thursday truckloads of evidence seized by police in summer raids probing child sex scandals within the country's Roman Catholic Church.

An appeals court deemed the raids, on the church headquarters in Brussels and at the home of its former top cardinal, disproportionate, and ordered that the material -- on hundreds of individual investigations conducted by an internal church commission -- be returned with prosecutors unable to use it.

The raids had drawn the anger of the pope, with church officials indicating that police had even opened tombs in the Mechelen cathedral and priests reporting that they were denied sustenance over long hours.

They took place as Belgium's bishops were meeting with a Vatican emissary, and also saw computers and bishops' mobile telephones confiscated in an effort to uncover electronic evidence to support allegations of cover-ups.

Judges had already struck off from admissible evidence the fruits of a search the same day in June at the offices of the church commission, whose panel subsequently announced their resignation en masse.

After paedophile scandals struck the Catholic Church in Ireland, the United States and Austria, Belgium was stunned in April when the bishop of Bruges was forced to resign. He admitted abusing a minor over a period of years in the 1980s.


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