Even in the big league, rules still matter

That’s a lesson learned, one would hope, by Magistrate Wim De Troy. A court of appeal ruled today that all files and documents seized from the offices of the Archdiocese of Malines-Brussels, the residence of Cardinal Danneels, and the cathedral of St. Rombout in Brussels must be returned to their owners. The raids, during which the files were taken, were judged to be illegal. One would assume that that means the end of Operation Chalice, but investigators still wish to continue their investigation.

It goes to show that, no matter the prejudice one may hold, proper conduct of legal procedures must still be maintained.

Does this mean the Church in Belgium is free from all misconduct? Certainly not. As the recent discussion about Cardinal Danneels – who has admitted that he made mistakes in the Vangheluwe case – shows, much has gone wrong in the past decades. That not only concerns crimes committed, but also the culture of silence that developed around it.