The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Police question Belgian cardinal over child abuse; SNAP responds
Statement by Barbara Blaine, president and founder of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (312-399-4747)
We're grateful that Danneels is being questioned. It should have happened long ago.
It's time for Catholic officials to stop griping about the police raid and start helping to unearth the truth about long-hidden clergy sex crimes and cover ups. Had the church hierarchy acted responsibly, there would have been no need for the raid, of course.
But now that a formal, long-overdue secular investigation has begun, the compassionate and appropriate approach is to help, not hinder, the probe. So bishops, priests, brothers, seminarians and lay employees in Belgium - past and present, should be working hard to find victims, witnesses and whistleblowers, and urging them to contact law enforcement.
The Pope has pledged to "do everything possible" to prevent future clergy sex crimes. He should start by instructing every single church member and employee in Belgium to take active steps to help police and prosecutors find the truth, expose the wrong-doers, and protect the children of that nation.
(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, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected]), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, [email protected])
Police question Belgian cardinal over child abuse: Report
AFP July 6, 2010 10:02 AM
BRUSSELS - Belgian police Tuesday questioned Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, the former head of the country's Catholic Church, as part of a probe into allegations of child abuse by priests.
Danneels, the man who led Belgium's Catholic Church for three decades until December, was taken in for questioning shortly after 9:30 am (0730 GMT), Belga news agency reported.
The cardinal's spokesman, Hans Geybels, confirmed earlier that he would be questioned.
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 and seized computer files from Danneels' home.
The legality of the move has been questioned by lawyers for Danneels as well as the archbishop of Mechelen, whose palace was also raided. They argue among other things that it compromises the inviolability of the Vatican.
Belgium's Justice Minister Stefaan De Clerck, while upholding the independence of the judge handling the case, has criticized 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, having been rocked in April when 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' 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 skeptical 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.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests