Most of the facts were already known, but the raw and frank testimonies of mutilated genitalia and priests brutally pounding children’s bodies hit viewers like a hammer blow.
It remains unclear what issue the parliamentary investigation committee should look into. For example, there is still a judicial investigation into the abuse of minors by Catholic clergy: Operation Kilk. This began in June 2010 with searches in, among other places, the Diocese of Mechelen and the private home of Cardinal Godfried Daniels, who is said to have been aware of dozens of cases of abuse.
About the author
Sasha Kester writes De Volkskrant About Belgium, Israel and the Middle East. She was previously a correspondent in India, Pakistan and Lebanon.
Although this investigation is not yet complete, it is already painfully clear that Operation Kilk will not matter much. Many of the priests and fathers mentioned have already died, and in many other cases the facts have come to an end. “The last thing you want is for the House of Representatives to interfere in the investigation with its own committee and cause procedural errors,” commentator Bart Eckhout wrote in the Flemish newspaper. the morning.
Conner Rousseau, head of the Social Democratic Party Vooruit, wants the committee to also look into the subsidies the church in Belgium still receives. This will require a constitutional amendment: Article 181 stipulates that the salaries and pensions of worship vouchers “shall be borne by the State.” In addition, local authorities are responsible for church buildings (which are often old and therefore expensive), and for the Catholic Church. Religious teachers are also paid by taxpayers.
Emotions and fire
In total, the Catholic Church can count on between 800 and 900 million euros annually: 80% of all resources flowing to philosophies in Belgium. This is out of proportion to the number of effective believers, and according to moral philosopher Patrick Luboeck, this is the starting point for the debate about church finances. “It’s a conversation best had quietly, without the emotions and flashes of the day,” he says. the morning.
Because of the shocking testimonies in the documentary Lost Unleashing an unprecedented amount of rage. This is the first time that victims have spoken freely on television about what happened to them. Large numbers of citizens demand church authorities for baptism, which is called deregistration in Belgium.
Meanwhile, church ministers are also taking action. Brothers of Charity, an organization that runs several schools and healthcare institutions in Belgium, offers a “sincere and frank” apology for all the abuses that occurred at its facilities in an open letter.
“We will pray for you”
Bishop Johan Bony spoke on the TV programme The appointment The Belgian Bishops’ Conference repeatedly asked the Vatican to remove Bishop Vangeloi from his position over the abuse of his minor nephew. To Bonnie’s frustration, people have been waiting for years for an answer: the Vatican is silent.
The bishop also referred with disgust to the influence of Cardinal Godfried Daniels, who at the time responded to almost every letter from an abuse victim: “We will pray for you.” Then the charges were covered up.
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