One of our informed readersand our readers are thankfully not only informed but also forthrightcorrected me yesterday. It’s not the case that the Belgian police went around pulling bones out of crypts. No, they drilled a hole to insert a fiber optic cable.
But this does not change what seems to me to be an interesting story about the strangely aggressive actions of Belgian officialdom. Further thoughts . . .
At the center of this story is retired Archbishop Godfried Danneels. He is a classic post-Vatican II liberal, someone who had the relative sympathy of the secular elites. Is it possible that Belgian officials were relatively reluctant to investigate claims of sex abuse, precisely because they wanted to buttress rather than undermine Archbishop Danneels and the liberal wing of the Church? And as pressure built across Europe, did the tide shift, with Belgian officialdom suddenly eager to cover its rear end, so to speak? That would explain the oddly urgent and aggressive nature of recent police interventions.
In any event, we seem to be seeing the latest stage in the cultural disestablishment of the Catholic Church in Europe. When police raid church offices rather than having bishops visit to talk behind closed doors, then we know that the cozy old relationships are kaput and a new mode of ecclesial existence lies ahead.