Thursday, July 04, 2024

Probably no charges against Belgian bishops for cover-up

According to media reports, the Belgian federal public prosecutor's office will not press charges against the Bishop Roger Vangheluwe, who has been dismissed from the clergy and others responsible.  

In an interview with the newspaper "De Standaard" (Monday), the public prosecutor's office confirmed that the investigation into "Operation Chalice" had been completed and that the final application had been submitted to the competent investigating judge. 

The authority did not comment on the content, but with reference to sources, "De Standaard" reports that no alleged person responsible is to be charged, partly due to a lack of evidence and partly due to the statute of limitations.

As part of "Operation Chalice", the public prosecutor's office has been investigating the cover-up of abuse in the church since 2010. 

Dozens of victims have been questioned, church facilities have been searched and files and data storage media have been confiscated. 

A total of 68 suspects were identified. Pornography was found on Vangheluwe's devices, but no child pornography. 

Alongside Vangheluwe, the main suspect was the Brussels Archbishop and Cardinal Godfried Danneels, who died in 2019 and his successor André-Joseph Léonard were the focus of the investigation. 

Léonard was already sentenced to a fine of 10,000 euros in 2015 for negligence in a case of sexual abuse in the diocese of Namur.

The public prosecutor's office has already tried twice to end the investigation and bring the case to court. In 2015 and 2020, several of those affected called for further investigations. 

In April, a parliamentary committee of enquiry, which was set up in 2023 after the broadcast of a TV documentary about abuse in the church, found that the judiciary had failed in "Operation Chalice". 

The final report therefore called for a further committee of enquiry to investigate "Operation Chalice".