Tomb Raiders


Among the many events surrounding the police raid on the offices of the Mechelen cathedral, I found the violation of the tombs of Cardinals Suenens and Van Roey particularly telling.  According to the AFP report:

The Brussels prosecutor’s office admitted that a crypt was searched during a police search of the Mechelen cathedral near Brussels on Thursday…

Earlier Father Eric De Beukelaer, spokesman for the Mechelen-Brussels archbishop, said that “the tombs of Cardinals Suenens and Van Roey were drilled and a camera pushed in, apparently to see whether there were any hidden documents” linked to the paedophilia claims concerning Catholic clergy.

If the motive given for rifling the Cardinals’ tombs was sincere, and the search wasn’t simply calculated to demoralize the Belgian hierarchy, then the story at least has its comical side.  It’s almost as if the Belgian police force spent days poring over Catholic methods of obstructing justice—but using Dan Brown novels as textbooks.  Somehow Belgian investigators were prepared to imagine that, rather than simply burn or shred incriminating files dating back to the reigns of Suenens and Van Roey, the bureaucrats of the Belgian chancery would more likely bury them in crypts.  Method two is just so much more ceremonial, conspiratorial and, well, “Catholic”.

Questions naturally arise.  Did they, I wonder, expect their cameras to reveal manila envelopes—helpfully stamped CONFIDENTIALIS—clutched between skeletal fingers?  Maybe a canister of microfilm perched atop a crosier?  Or maybe they expected to find no remains at all, but an empty tomb.  Perhaps this would have finally proved that Cardinal Suenens had faked his own death so as to smuggle the secret documents down to his retirement home on Grand Cayman.

Well, maybe that last one is a little far fetched.  The Belgians are perhaps prepared to believe many things, but they don’t seem much impressed nowadays with the evidences of empty tombs.


6 Responses to Tomb Raiders

  1. claire says:

    raiding the tombs was a bit far-fetched but raiding the offices… Imagine, if a politician had done just a fraction of what some priests have done, he would be in jail. Why should there be different kinds of justice?

    • Andy Mason says:

      I don’t think that anybody is criticizing the authorities for searching the diocesan offices or even the bishop’s residence. The only criticism I’ve seen is related to the desecration of the crypts, which was neither necessary nor even beneficial to the investigation. There is a huge difference between ensuring justice and attacking the religious beliefs of an entire group of people.

  2. libhomo says:

    These raids were perfectly legitimate and reasonable. If any other institution was as guilty of the mass rape of children as the Roman Catholic Church, no one would dare criticize these efforts to protect children.

  3. Qualis Rex says:

    Unfortunately, the Belgian hierarchy has lost all semblance of credibility and legitimacy this last decade. One could easily cite Bishops Vangheluwe and Daneels for their sex abuse, wayward heretical practices and utter disregard for the church (i.e. turning over the house of God to Mohammedan squatters who defiled and destroyed sacred images and objects). As Our Lord states, “by their fruits shall they be known” so it was only a matter of time until the true colours and the extent of the crimes of these scoundrels came to light.

    But what of the OTHER Bishops of Belgium? Are they to be faulted for the crimes and heresy of those who did wrong? Or are they too guilty of the sin of omission for not protecting their flock and championing the values of the church regardless of diocesan boundaries? Whatever the case, it will be a long time before the church in Belgium recovers from this. The “tomb raid” is simply the secular world showing its contempt for the church in Belgium.

  4. gb says:

    You know, its true, as Claire implies, that this Scandal is scandalous but, while its much less sensationlistic to point out, I have to say that I was much more impressed by the Holy Father’s invitation to the priests gathered at the closing ceremonies for the Year of Priests. He encouraged them to re-define the word ‘scandal’ and to make their priesthood a scandalous witness to Truth for this culture.

    Without downplaying the awfulness of what has happened to the sex abuse victims, the hypocrisy of the Belgian police playing Keystone Cops in this raid in a country that is infamous for its lack of sexual morality is almost impossible to miss. I just can’t help thinking of the “speck in your brother’s eye while you have a plank in your own.”

    Because I have three priests in our fam, I am well aware of the fact that they happen to live with the daily reality that they basically are the only group of citizens who are considered guilty until proven innocent. All it takes is one accusation by one disgruntled person & they are removed from office. And, as in the case of two priests in our diocese, even if they are exonerated by a court of law, their lives and ministries are never the same.

    So yes, claire, there should NOT be “different kinds of justice.” I agree. Priests should get the same rights as any other citizen.

  5. crystal says:

    I read in one of the news stories that the tomb(s) had undergone recent contruction – perhaps that’s why the police suspected something might be hidden there. If Belgium is like the US, the police probably had to have fairly reliable information/probable cause to get a search warrant for the tombs.

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