Gunning for Godfried? Belgian abuse probe asks what Danneels knew

standaardAre the Belgian judicial authorities gunning for Godfried? It looks like Cardinal Godfried Danneels, the popular grandfatherly Catholic prelate who stepped down in January as archbishop of Brussels-Mechelen after three decades, is the main target of the incredible “tomb raider” sweeps that shocked the Church last Thursday. The police who swooped down on the diocesan headquarters in Mechelen, Danneels’s own apartment nearby and the offices of the Church commission on abuse in Leuven did not suspect the cardinal of abuse himself. But it seems the investigating magistrate behind the raid is convinced that Danneels hushed up cases during his long reign.

The media seem to be too — just take a look at last Saturday’s front page of the Brussels daily De Standaard at the right.

There may be something there. Let’s see what the investigators come up with.

Does the magistrate actually think Danneels also crept down to the crypt at St. Rumbold’s Cathedral in Mechelen one night and stashed incriminating files in the tombs of his predecessors?  Now we’re in Da Vinci Code territory. This would be laughable if it weren’t a sign of the Marc Dutroux cloud that hangs over any case like this in Belgium. The Belgian police suspected Dutroux of kidnapping girls in the 1990s and actually inspected his house and missed the dungeon for the girls in the basement. There were huge protests against police incompetence when this came out. Dutroux was arrested and convicted of the murder of four girls. So the police are going to be extra tough and thorough to make sure they don’t bungle it again.

The change in tone about Danneels is striking and dates to the April resignation of Bruges Bishop Roger Vangheluwe after admitting he had abused his own nephew. Danneels said at the time that he first learned of Vangheluwe’s transgressions only days before they became public, a fact that has been challenged by a Brussels priest, Rik Devillé. In the eight weeks since that shock, 475 people contacted the Church commission on sexual abuse to report their cases. Only 30 cases had been registered with the commission in the previous 10 years and none or almost none with the police. This is a sea change.

Founder of Catholic Opus Dei group focus of movie

opus-deiIf Opus Dei had a rough ride in the blockbuster movie based on Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code,” it looks set for an altogether more sympathetic portrayal in another film that deals with the Catholic organization.

British director Roland Joffe, renowned for Oscar-nominated “The Killing Fields” and “The Mission,” is making “There Be Dragons,” a film set during the Spanish Civil War that focuses in part on the life of Opus Dei founder Jose Maria Escriva. (Photo: Image of Escriva at his canonisation at the Vatican, 6 Oct 2002/Paolo Cocco)

Principal photography is complete, and Joffe is now in the editing room aiming to have the movie, which stars Bond girl Olga Kurylenko, ready for theatres by autumn next year.

This time around, Dan Brown hero is Vatican ally

photocall-2After exposing a Church cover-up in “The Da Vinci Code,” symbologist Robert Langdon returns to the big screen as an unlikely Vatican ally in the latest movie adaptation of a novel by author Dan Brown.

“Angels & Demons,” again starring Tom Hanks as Langdon and directed by Ron Howard, premieres in Rome on Monday at a theatre a mile (0.6 kilometer) away from Vatican City. It’s due to open in the United States on May 15. (Photo: Tom Hanks, Ayelet Zurer and Ron Howard (L-R) at a photocall at CERN near Geneva, 12 Feb 2009/Valentin Flauraud)

In the film, Langdon is recruited by the Vatican after the pope dies and four cardinals tipped  to succeed him are kidnapped. Langdon races through the “Eternal City” deciphering clues linked to a centuries-old secret society, the Illuminati.