Friday, June 25, 2010

Belgian Police: Tomb Raider and the Cardinals

From today's news:
"Vatican 'indignant' over Belgium police raids"
BBC (June 25, 2010)

"The Vatican has expressed shock at raids, including the 'violation' of a cathedral crypt, by Belgian police investigating alleged child sex abuse.

"As well as searching a couple of main Church offices and a cardinal's home, police had drilled holes in two archbishops' tombs, said the Church.

"Prosecutors said the raids were over alleged 'abuse of minors committed by a certain number of Church figures'...."

"...They also searched the Church's headquarters, the Brussels archdiocese in Mechelen, north of the Belgian capital.

"Bishops holding a meeting there were barred from leaving the premises for several hours and had their mobile phones confiscated, said Church officials...."
I first heard about this raid on a cathedral yesterday. In the context of today's culture, I wasn't surprised: some Catholic priests have abused some people. (That's a bad thing, by the way: no question about it.) A few Catholic bishops have - foolishly, in my view - tried to cover up abuse in their dioceses.

So, naturally, Belgian police would raid a Catholic cathedral. They're Catholics, right? So it's okay. Yesterday I thought it was possible that Belgian authorities had reason to raid that particular cathedral. I preferred to believe that the raid wasn't just a fishing expedition: based on the assumption that, since the folks at the cathedral were Catholic, they must be up to something.

Shocked, No; Disgusted, Yes

Personally, I'm not "shocked" at Belgian snoopers drilling into the graves of Cardinals Jozef-Ernest Van Roey and Leon-Joseph Suenens. There's a lot of (self?) righteous indignation floating around these days.

The tomb robbers were looking for something specific: documents. That were hidden in the graves. But weren't found, according to the BBC article.

It could have been worse: If this was like the 'good old days' of the French Revolution or Cromwell's venture we'd probably be hearing about the whole cathedral being torn down - or at least the windows getting smashed out and statues destroyed. Because "someone mentioned" there might be documents in them.

Belgian authorities apparently left the cardinals' tombs essentially intact, after sending a robot in to snoop around. The BBC article isn't too detailed on that subject.

Maybe we'll be reading about the whole crypt being dug up tomorrow.

The Belgian rulers had a good reason for drilling into the tombs. And it was only one tomb. They say:
"...A spokesman for the Belgian prosecutor in Brussels told news agency Reuters that investigators partially opened one tomb in the cathedral after someone mentioned work had recently been carried out on the grave...."
There, you see? Someone mentioned" work had been done near the grave. I suppose that's a good-enough reason to go spelunking. It's "the" grave, notice - the Belgian line is that they just did their, ah, work on just one grave.

Maybe Cardinals Jozef-Ernest Van Roey and Leon-Joseph Suenens were buried in one tomb.
Shocked? Why Should I Be?
Shocked? No, I'm not shocked. That would imply that I'm surprised at what the secular authorities in Belgium did. I'm not, particularly. The Catholic Church is, just now, one of the "usual suspects" in Western culture. We'll have to get used to being shaken down from time to time.
Disgusted? Yes, a Bit
According to the BBC article, a boy was abused by a priest in Belgium. 20 years ago. That abuse was a bad thing. It was not right. It was wrong. I've written about this before.

I suppose I should be impressed that Belgian investigators apparently drilled into the tomb(s) and used robots to look around, instead of simply taking pickaxes to the graves. Maybe, despite the very vague excuse given in the BBC article, they had something to go on besides "someone mentioned."

Even so, the drilling into those graves - based on what sounds like something out of Maria Monk's bestseller - left a bad taste in my mind.

My guess is that we'll soon see more desecrated graves and vandalized sanctuaries, based on what "someone mentioned."

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