Abuse committee in Belgium now obsolete?

That’s a serious question being asked by chairman Peter Adriaenssens, following police raids in the offices of the Archdiocese of Malines-Brussels, the cathedral of St. Rombout, the home of Cardinal Danneels and also the offices of the committee which is investigating abuse cases in the Church in Belgium. That committee, Adriaenssens explained, deals with old cases, some 450 of them, which fall under the statute of limitations. Current cases, which may still be investigated by the police and handled by the courts, are subject of an agreement between the committee and the Justice Department, and will be handled by the latter. Why the police then saw it fit to seize the 450 files of cases they can’t do anything about, is a question.

It certainly seems to make Addriaensens’ work obsolete. His committee will meet on Monday to decide of they’ll dissolve.

The chairman says he fears for the privacy of victims and offenders, many of whom have expressly requested protection of their report and data.

All this seems like a serious stab in the back. Justice and the Church in Belgium had agreements that said that current cases be dealt with Justice, while older cases which fall under the statute of limitations will be investigated by Addriaenssens and colleagues. That way the Church took her responsibility in clearing up the crimes committed in the past and bringing offenders to justice. That has now become impossible. All the work that the committee has done has been taken from them, and much related information has similarly been seized from the archdiocese and Cardinal Danneels’ personal effects.

Justice has merely declared they are looking for evidence that will fit into a recently opened case file which was opened after ‘a declaration of old facts’. Whatever that may mean, exactly.