There was certainly no waffling in Belgium when law enforcement officials raided a Catholic Bishop’s meeting to pursue tawdry allegations of sexual abuse by pedophile priests.
When Pope Benedict XVI heard about the operation, he put down his incense and announced he was incensed that police actually did their jobs to protect minors from major abuses. He called the police action “surprising and deplorable”, which more accurately might describe the way Rome has handled the child rape crisis.
Make no mistake — the raid was harsh, heavy-handed — and certainly long overdue. It is important to remember that the authorities only acted after the church stonewalled and failed to follow-through on promises it made to refer abuse cases to prosecutors under a 1990s agreement.
In condemning the sting operation, the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, tried to hide behind diplomatic protocol by calling the police practices “serious and unbelievable” and compared them to the handiwork of communist dictatorships.
However, if the Vatican were a genuine country where leaders abused children on such a massive scale worldwide, they would have suffered far more serious consequences. There would surely be calls in the United Nations for sanctions and a demand that the Pope step down.
The heart of the matter is that the Holy See wants to remain in charge of investigations, despite its complete and utter failure to comprehensively investigate, no less discipline, wayward priests. They obviously remain clueless on the gravity of the situation and heartless in the clumsy way they often treat their victims.
At this point, The Roman Catholic Church arguably has less credibility than the despicable North American Man Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) in terms of investigating allegations of abuse. If you think this is anti-Catholic hyperbole, consider that the Vatican has a total of ten investigators to cover hundreds of complaints worldwide. Pause and digest this paltry number for a moment…then get really angry.
That’s right, the Los Angeles Lakers have two more basketball players than the Vatican has child sexual abuse investigators. Rome’s entire molestation unit is the size of two Jackson 5’s. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the Pope has hired more than ten personal shoppers to help him pick out his Prada shoes.
Now, compare the figures 10 and 400.
The former we know, and the latter is the total number of sexual abuse allegations leveled against Belgian priests since the 80’s. Of course, the Church created a puppet committee in Belgium to plod through the cases. But, we all know that Rome’s specialty is stonewalling and smokescreens. Given the disparity between promises to actual prosecutions, no country that cares about its children should allow the Vatican authority to police itself. The time for ceding control to Rome must end and civil authorities worldwide should follow Belgium’s laudable lead.
Left to its own deviant devices, the Vatican’s instincts are to pass the buck, while giving guilty priests a pass. When the abuse cases first came to light in the United States, the Vatican tried to spin the immoral monstrosity as an American problem, as if latitude and longitude caused the lechery and lies.
The geographical excuse imploded after an avalanche of child rape allegations came from all corners of the world including the Catholic strongholds of Ireland, Austria and Germany. In a panic, the Pope and his minions tried to blame everything from gossip to gay men.
Indeed, Belgium’s Archbishop Léonard has long tried to demonize LGBT people. Three years ago he said they were “abnormal,” with “a blockage in their normal psychological development.” That’s interesting, because the police just raided his church over a pedophilia cover-up, not one of the many gay establishments or organizations in Brussels.
In the controversial raid, according to Time Magazine:
“Police sealed off St. Rumbold’s Cathedral in Mechelen, north of Brussels, where the nine bishops were meeting, and carried away computers and hundreds of files. They drilled into the tombs of prelates Leo Jozef Suenens and Jozef-Ernest van Roey – who headed the Belgian Catholic Church between 1926 and 1979 – and poked a camera inside to look for hidden documents. At the same time, they raided the home and seized the laptop of Cardinal Godfried Danneels, who was the head of the Belgian Catholic Church for three decades until Léonard succeeded him in January. The police also went to nearby Leuven to search the premises of the independent Church body that is investigating hundreds of cases of clerical abuse.”
In this particular case, I say, “drill baby, drill.” This is the way to run a proper investigation. Law enforcement across the globe must stop coddling alleged criminals and enabling a Vatican cover-up. The Pope’s kangaroo investigative committees ought to be dismantled immediately and the police should handle the possible crimes.
If the Pope and his cohorts are truly men of God, wouldn’t they welcome much-needed assistance for their obviously overburdened and beleaguered ten investigators?
Wayne Besen is a columnist and author of the book “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth.”