New twist in Belgian Catholic abuse legal row
BRUSSELS: Belgium's highest court ordered magistrates on Tuesday to re-examine evidence seized by police relating to decades of child abuse and alleged Roman Catholic Church cover-ups.
The court overturned two previous decisions by lower courts that rendered inadmissible evidence taken from church headquarters, the home of a former archbishop and a church-backed commission investigating sex crimes perpetrated by priests.
Responding to lawyers acting for alleged victims who lodged appeals, the judges said the lower courts were wrong not to hear civil parties and therefore magistrates should look again at the evidence in a new light.
It means that truckloads of material gathered by police in spectacular raids in June that drew the ire of Pope Benedict XVI himself could potentially be used to relaunch state prosecutions for abuse.
However, it does not automatically mean a prosecution case will be launched, because the lower judges could reach the same decisions as before, saying they have done so this time while considering aggrieved parties' accusations.
The raids on June 24, conducted as a Vatican ambassador was meeting with church leaders, opened the eyes of the world to the scale of the scandal within the Belgian Catholic Church, but the church and retired archbishop, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, asked that the material seized be declared out of bounds.
After the material was returned, the Church's own investigator completed and delivered a hard-hitting report on the abuse problem. When I reported on his findings, I overlooked one important detail.
Child psychologist Peter Adriaenssens then unleashed nationwide controversy with the release on September 10 of a report by a commission he led which revealed nearly 500 people reported abuses by priests since the 1950s and 13 victims committed suicide.Adriaenssens subsequently called on the pope to resign.
- Belgian Cardinal Attempted to Secure Silence on Abuse (clericalabusewatch.blogspot.com)
- Belgian Bishops Put Money Before Victims (clericalabusewatch.blogspot.com)
- Belgian Cardinal: "Damage Control" Before Concern For Victims (clericalabusewatch.blogspot.com)
- Belgian Abuse Report: "Almost Every Diocese". (clericalabusewatch.blogspot.com)
- Godfried Danneels, Belgian Cardinal, Offered To Keep Sex Abuse Case Quiet Until Bishop's Retirement (huffingtonpost.com)
- Belgian child abuse report exposes Catholic clergy (guardian.co.uk)