Belgian Bishops Protest "Wild" Press Assumptions

Express Support for Justice System

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BRUSSELS, Belgium, JULY 7, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Belgian bishop’ conference is protesting accusations by a newspaper that claimed documents were found linking the archbishopric of Malines-Brussels with a serial killer known as «the monster of Marcinelle.»

The bishops called a press conference today to respond to rumors circulated by the Tuesday publication of the newspaper «Het Laatste Nieuws,» Vatican Radio reported.

The paper claimed that a June 24 police raid on the archdiocesan offices uncovered documents linked to the case of Marc Dutroux, a serial killer who was arrested in 1996 and convicted for sexually abusing, torturing and murdering several girls as young as 8.

This rumor was picked up and elaborated on by several other media sources worldwide.

It was compounded by the fact that the former archbishop of Malines-Brussels, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, was interrogated by police investigators for ten hours on Tuesday, which caused some media sources to jump to conclusions and assume a direct relation with the rumored documents.

Eric de Beukelaer, the conference spokesman, stated to journalists, «We wanted to address the press today because we really feel that justice has to do its work; that’s what the bishops want.»

«We need serenity and this kind of wild information is insane because it gives the impression of a very dramatic atmosphere with plots all around,» he asserted.

Information

The spokesman explained, «What has indeed been found was a small information file, which was given a few years ago to the many journalists, as well as politicians and [Archbishop André Joseph] Léonard, who was in those days the bishop of Namur.»

The file, he said, given to the Church and state authorities by a third party, included «disks as well as pictures of the Dutroux affair.»

De Beukelaer stated that Archbishop Léonard reported it to the commission for sexual abuse, and the chairman checked into it.

«That was the file that was found during the police raids,» the spokesman said, noting that it doesn’t account for the «big, dramatic report that reached the newspapers.»

Cathobel, the press office of the bishops’ conference, released a statement expressing the «astonishment» of the prelates regarding the unfounded media reports.

The conference stated that «it would be very regrettable if the information covered by professional secrecy and the investigation had been voluntarily released to the press by people involved in the investigation, in order to provoke sensational reactions.»

The prelates affirmed the desire «to cooperate properly with the law» and to «collaborate in response to questions from investigators, rather than reacting to press articles.»

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