Various news outlets, from the BBC
to France 24
and the UK based Telegraph
, reported today that Belgian police have raided the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church on Thursday, in an effort to investigate sexual abuses of children by members of the clergy.
Although Belgium has no government at the moment, the country and its judiciary seem to function just as well. For example, 30 police officers swooped down on the palace of the archbishop of Brussels-Mechelen, sealing off the building and removing a variety of documents, while another raid took place at the home of Cardinal Godfried Danneels, 77, where police officers seized the personal computer of the former head of Belgium's Catholic Church.
In addition, another raid took place in the city of Leuven, where police officers searched the office of the Adriaenssens committee, a so-called independent body set up by the Church to investigate abuse allegations. At these offices, more than 450 files containing abuse allegations were confiscated and will now be studies by investigators for clues of abuse.
The move comes after new charges have emerged of child sex abuse at the hands of priests, which is just another blow to the scandal-plagued church. Other sources say that the present investigation is centred on the resignation, in April, of Roger Vangheluwe, the bishop of Bruges. The bishop stood down after admitting to having sexually abused a young boy during the time when Cardinal Danneels was the head of the Belgian Church.
A move like the Belgium one should be expected to happen in every country, considering that the pope, Benedict XVI, pledged in April to "bring to justice" all church officials responsible for sexual abuse, and considering thst the Vatican has made it explicit that sex abuse cases should be reported to police. The relevant Vatican message contained the words "if required by law", but there's no known country (to my knowledge) in which sexual abuse, especially of children, is not required to be reported to the police.