July 6th, 2010
04:01 PM ET

Police probe Belgian cardinal over abuse cover-up allegations

Police are investigating accusations that the former archbishop of Belgium knew of sexual abuse in the church but failed to stop it, the Belgian prosecutor's office told CNN Tuesday.

Cardinal Godfried Danneels was archbishop of Belgium for more than 30 years before he stepped down in January.

Belgian police raided the national headquarters of the Catholic Church last month over allegations of child abuse, prompting an angry response from Pope Benedict XVI and other church leaders.

Investigators seized archdiocese archives covering 25 years as well as personal computers and other personal possessions, said Fernand Keuleneer, a lawyer for the archdiocese.

Police raided the private residence of Danneels and the headquarters of the Catholic Church in Belgium, where a meeting of bishops happened to be taking place.

They detained the bishops and other church employees - even the cook - for about nine hours, De Beukelaer said. Investigators also seized personal possessions and have not yet returned them, he said.

Members of a Belgian church commission that helps sexual abuse victims resigned en masse to protest the raid a week after it took place, a spokesman for the Mechelen-Brussels Archdiocese said.

The commission worked with people who have been abused by clergy members, said the spokesman, the Rev. Eric De Beukelaer.

The Belgian Prosecutor's Office said Monday it is investigating death threats against witnesses and magistrates involved in clergy child abuse cases.

The Vatican criticized the raids but reaffirmed its "strong condemnation of any sinful and criminal abuse of minors by members of the church." It cited "the need to repair and confront such acts in conformity with the law and teachings of the Gospels."

The Catholic Church is facing allegations that clergy members abused children in at least half a dozen countries, including the pope's native Germany, as well as Belgium, Ireland, Austria, the Netherlands and the United States.

The CNN Wire Staff and CNN's Lianne Turner contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church

soundoff (111 Responses)
  1. Gralin

    Why do people from all over the world join forces to find criminals of war, find them and try them in court? Yet the known criminals of child abuse physically, mentally and spiritually simply be moved from one church to another where they find new victims to abuse. In most of the world anyone harboring a criminal is charged for aiding that criminal. Why then do national and international rules not apply to those in who are in charge of these criminals not treated the same. How on earth can civilization merely 'write' about known abuses instead of demanding retribution? Are we not as guilty as the pope and priests when we only give lip service about their crimes?

    July 16, 2010 at 6:36 pm |
  2. Jordan

    any parent that puts their children in these catholic and or other christian churches/schools are in a way at fault as well. 1) for supplying priests with children and 2) for filling young impressionable minds with 2000 year old mix matched crap. Why are people still raising children with the belief that ribs are magical, snakes talk and that 4,000,000 species can fit in a boat. Its like telling kids cigarettes are healthy.

    July 8, 2010 at 7:48 pm |
  3. Paul Kraft

    By citing that ciminal abuse of minors should be met by "the need to repair and confront such acts in conformity with the law and teachings of the Gospels" the Vatican illustrates clearly that it still doesn't understand the principle that criminal acts in society require to be dealt with by the secular legal system. The Catholic Church authorities also fail to understand that its perceived untrustworthiness, because of its discretionary and 'blind-eyed' handling of known abusers, is the reason why the Belgian authorities moves so swiftly and so methodically in their investigations.

    July 8, 2010 at 11:49 am |
  4. Luke3

    The issue that many have with the Church, regardless of the others, is that the church claims to the moral authority of the world while continually being destructive to the well being of children and putting the welfare of the organization ahead of the victims and their families. The hypocrisy is absolutely and unequivocally outstanding.

    July 8, 2010 at 10:55 am |
    • Reality

      Luke3, The RCC is simply another human organization. No matter what it says, it has no superior moral authority and its history and theology are just as flawed as other religions. With respect to hom-s–unions, that is another topic that involves significant differences in biology and physics in comparison to marriage.

      July 8, 2010 at 6:12 pm |
    • Luke

      Reality – Oh what a complete cop-out. You could not be more disingenuous. While I disagree ten-fold, the Church and its followers argue insisently about how the ten commandments are the foundation of our laws and continue to claim of the highest moral authority over their poeple, impacting laws and society this very day. At least you admit that the RCC is a human organizaion, but the pope is supposed to be the voice of Jesus on this earth. Your reply is bunk and nonsense, and contradicts the root of the Church's stance and reason for standing this day. I see you all over these boards, and you argue one thing during one thread, and another side on the next thread. Your arguements are inconsistent and a house of cards. I can't say I fault you though; your belief system is also a house a cards. People like me are able, all too easily, to rip the bottom rung out of your arguments day in and day out. Get used to it.

      July 9, 2010 at 8:50 am |
    • Petel2

      Reality is likely a priest. Expect a denial.

      July 9, 2010 at 12:58 pm |
  5. Luke

    Reality – The issue that many have with the RCC, mutually exclusive to the others, is that they claim to the moral authority of the world while continually being destructive to the well being of children and putting the welfare of the organization ahead of the victim and their family. No one supports any organization that abuses children, but we are particularly disappointed in one that claims moral authority over another group of people. A great example of this would be the Church's influence over world-governments regarding homosexual marriage, but harbor and protecting known homosexual pedophiles. Interesting and laughable. The hypocrisy is just shocking.

    July 8, 2010 at 10:35 am |
  6. Reality

    The Boys Scouts of America have hid pedophilia amongst their troop leaders for over 70 years. Orthodox Jews in Israel have protested when a well-known rabbi was arrested for pedophilia saying he had rabbinic privileges that made him exempt from arrest. Seven Day Adventists and the Southern Baptist Convention have had analogous problems with their preachers. Google or Bing the situation because specific references are not permitted on this blog. And considering 50% those arrested for pedophilia are married men, one has to assume that some families have covered up the situation in their families. Again, this horrific problem is universally systemic and not simply a RCC problem.

    July 7, 2010 at 11:50 pm |
    • nachooooo libre

      has the boy scout had 8,000 scout masters convicted..... have the jews paid out over 3 billion dollars in out of court settlements in the US alone? and do any of these organizations have at least 3 pedophile treatment centers, know as cllub ped ?

      July 8, 2010 at 2:06 am |
    • Reality

      Statistically, there are no more pedophiles in the historic and theology flawed RCC than there are in other groups. It just additional evidence that the RCC is a simply another human organization no better than other human organizations.

      July 8, 2010 at 7:51 am |
    • Petel2

      Show me another organization that orchestrated cover ups from the top down, to include threats, of child abuse as this organization.
      And this is a religion?

      July 8, 2010 at 9:40 am |
    • Reality


      I already did that. Google and Bing the recent history of pedophilia.

      July 8, 2010 at 10:04 am |
    • Petel2

      No you haven't. You have only showed pedophilia in other organizations. The worst crimes against humanity are the cover ups, from the pope down. A complete organization that participated in the destruction of children's lives. And today this organization pay lobbyists to stop exposure and deny victims.
      And this is a religion? Had they done what was right, many would not have committed suicide and others not mentally ill. The cruelest punishment to a human being orchestrated by the catholic church to preserve their reputation over the life of a small child. Early intervention was needed, threats to the child was their intervention.

      July 8, 2010 at 10:21 am |
    • Reality


      How Christian of you?? Google, Bing, common sense and reality rule the day. I recommend you tone down your rhetoric by reading some books by the many contemporary historic Jesus exegetes. Then and only then will you be able to grasp the meaning of getting used to fairness and complete reviews of topics. And please in the future note any specific inconsistencies in anyones commentaries.

      July 9, 2010 at 11:45 am |
    • Luke

      Reality – I not Christian, nor I do believe and follow Chrisitan values. I am repulsed by the Christian value system. I am a moral man and a realist. Irrelevant arguement on your part.

      July 9, 2010 at 12:52 pm |
    • Petel2

      I have nothing to do with christianity or the jesus stuff. I was sodomized from ages 8 to 10, once intentionally suffocated where I played dead and slept in the woods. All priests and one is a bishop today.
      While being GANG sodomized by 4 priests, I was praying to god to ask them to please quit. The priest on my back wispered in my ear, "god left us along time ago because we are bad".
      Don't you dare ask me how xtian I am, I have nothing to do with the freaks. You are all a bunch of liars, and it continues as the church continues to pay lobbyists to deny our civil rights – your harming continues.

      July 9, 2010 at 12:56 pm |
  7. Smith in Oregon

    IF anyone deserved to be questioned while being waterboarded 82 times in 30 days, This utterly corrupt Vatican Bishop would be that man.

    July 7, 2010 at 5:52 pm |
    • Petel2

      Include the pope too

      July 7, 2010 at 9:32 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.