Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Desecration of the Tombs

The Vatican called it a violation. Pope Benedict called the raids deplorable that were carried out by Belgian police. I call it the desecration of the tombs. Definitions of the word desecrate include"to render unhallowed" or to "profane." Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard, the archbishop of Belgium said, "It was worthy of the 'The Da Vinci Code.'" Yes, it certainly could have been a scene from the movie. What he was referring to was the incident in Belgium when the tombs of two archbishops were drilled into, in the Brussels Cathedral as part of a police action last Thursday. Police also detained members of the Belgian Bishops' Conference for nine hours while searching for documents related to sex abuse cases. They also found it necessary to search the tombs of archbishops. 
What a bizarre turning point in the ongoing crisis in Europe over the sexual abuse crisis. This strange episode, which sounds like a fictional story, shows the extent to which the crisis has undermined the credibility of the Church in Europe. At another time in history, this action would have been unthinkable. 
According to an article in the New York Times that I read, "In the Cathedral of Mechelen north of Brussels, the police drilled into the tomb of Cardinal Jozef-Ernest Van Roey and Cardinal Leon-Josef Suenens, two former archbishops of Mechelen-Brussels and used cameras to look for documents." 
In a statement expressing dismay over how the situation was handled the Vatican issued a statement reiterating "its strong condemnation of every sinful and criminal act of abuse of minors by members of the church as well as the necessity to repair and confront such acts in a way that conforms to the exigencies of justice and the teachings of the Gospel."
On Sunday the Belgian Justice Minister "stressed that the procedures used in the raids were correct and the bishops were treated normally." I didn't read what he said regarding the raiding of the tombs of dead archbishops. Surely he can't believe that the tombs were treated respectfully. 
In my opinion, this latest crisis makes it seem like the situation in Europe is out of control. The Church will need to do tremendous work to restore credibility in Europe and elsewhere. Much thought and prayer needs to be put into practical action which heals, transforms and helps the Church to move forward with hope.