The Belgian Church is at a troubled juncture

Cardinal Danneels is pictured on a magazine cover at the St Rombouts Cathedral in Mechelen (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

The Belgian bishops have expressed astonishment at leaked documents which led to reports attempting to link last week’s police raid of Church property to the case of notorious Belgian paedophile and child murderer Marc Dutroux.

Reports in the Flemish newspaper Het Laaste Nieuws said that official documents pertaining to the case of two girls murdered by Dutroux had made their way into the dossiers seized from the offices of the Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels last week.

In a statement released today, the Belgian bishops said they were astonished that information from the investigation into the Church’s role in the child abuse scandal had been leaked to the press.

Cardinal Godfried Danneels, the former head of the Belgian Church and Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, was taken in for questioning by the police yesterday. The interrogation lasted for 10 hours and a court doctor was called to check whether the cardinal’s health was up to it.

During the raids on Church property last week, which included a Da Vinci Code-esque breaking into tombs of two cardinals, Cardinal Danneels’s computer was confiscated as were over 400 files about clerical sex abuse belonging to the Church’s internal commission.

The Belgian reports about the interrogation stressed that the cardinal had been called in for questioning as a witness rather than because he was under suspicion. But according to De Morgen Peter Adriaenssens, the former head of the Church commission who was also questioned, made two statements which could possibly incriminate the cardinal.

After the interrogation, Mr Adrianssens told reporters that Cardinal Danneels was in a state of shock. He said: “It is very difficult for him to know that a good number of people thought that he knew and did nothing. He is surprised that such serious facts are being linked to him.”

De Morgen (in French at La Libre Belgique) also reported that the mysterious Dutroux files, which were CD-Roms containing autopsy pictures, had been sent to the Church by members of the press.

The Sprout, an English-language satirical newspaper, published a fictional story which suggested the two girls had been murdered by a cabal of Belgian notables including Cardinal Danneels. According to De Morgen, the editors of the Sprout also sent a copy of the pictures to the Vatican, hoping to get a reaction. The documents were then forwarded to the Archdioese of Mechelen, where they were filed and have now resurfaced.

An aside on the story of the raid on the Belgian bishops: whether people see it as an instance of dramatic irony or not, the Belgian bishops were supposed to be holding a big service at the Koekelberg on June 24, the day of the raids, to venerate the heart of the Cure d’Ars, a model of the priesthood, with 70 priests.

But the bishops were held in custody for nine hours while their phones had been confiscated. The people taking part in the Mass waited and waited for the bishops to come.

Finally, they went ahead with the Mass. At the moment of consecration, the Mass was disrupted by hooded protestors who made noises on vuvuzelas, released helium balloons with alarms attached to them into the dome, threw condoms filled with shampoo and poured red ink into the Holy Water font. They were protesting against the Catholic Church in general but about the current Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard of Mechelen-Brussels in particular.